Soaring demand for online alcohol deliveries during the coronavirus lockdown has seen sales at Naked Wines rise more than 80% higher in April and May.

The firm said an "unprecedented" jump in demand amid the lockdown meant it was forced to stop taking on new customers and temporarily halt orders in March.

It began taking on new customers again in early April and saw sales jump 81% in the first two months of its new financial year.

The group saw new customers surge 256% over April and May, with repeat customer sales up 50%.

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Naked Wines chief executive Nick Devlin, who took on the role earlier this year, said the coronavirus crisis would spark a shift towards online wine demand.

He said: "I believe the crisis will likely serve as an inflection point for consumer migration online for wine purchases."

"The past months during the Covid-19 pandemic massively increased awareness of online models and increased the perceived legitimacy of online within the wine category," he added.

Shares in the group rose as much as 6% as its results for the year to March 31 also showed pre-tax losses almost halving to £5.4 million from £9.9 million the previous year as revenues jumped 13.7%.

Despite the lockdown sales boost since the year-end, Naked Wines said it could not give a full-year outlook for 2020-21 due to the "uncertainty as to how long current trading conditions will persist".

Naked Wines was set up in 2008 and merged with Majestic Wine Warehouse in 2015.

Majestic then rebranded as Naked Wines after its faster-growing online business and the Majestic Wine retail chain was sold to US private equity firm Fortress Investment Group last August.

A Scotch whisky producer has announced a move to support a Scottish charity at the Manchester United game against Sheffield United tonight.

As Manchester United gears up to host its first Premier League game back at Old Trafford this evening, its official spirits partner Chivas has said it will be dedicating its pitch-side advertising space to support Covid-impacted charity, MND Scotland (Motor Neurone Disease Scotland).

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The pitch perimeter digiboards - that would usually promote the world-famous whisky - will also feature MND Scotland’s text to donate number, "helping the organisation reach a vast audience at a time when they need it most".

Scotch whisky Chivas’ parent company, Chivas Brothers, announced in January that MND Scotland had been selected by employees as their Charity of the Year.

Due to the pandemic’s impact on planned fundraising efforts, the company donated an additional £26,000 at the start of the outbreak to reach their £50,000 target early and extended the partnership to the end of 2021.

The pitch-side sponsorship space donation is the latest phase of the company’s ongoing support.

Iain McWhirter, head of fundraising - MND Scotland commented: “People with MND are already under attack from a devastating disease, which threatens their freedom and security; emotionally, physically and financially.

"With the outbreak of coronavirus, these same individuals are now under threat from a second disease. Being donated a platform by Chivas which offers exposure and potential donations from a global audience is such an incredible gesture. Everyone dreams of getting onto the pitch at Old Trafford; we’ll use our chance to help relegate MND to history.”

MND Scotland is the leading Scottish charity providing care and support to people affected by Motor Neurone Disease, as well as funding research into finding a cure. MND Scotland delivers a number of vital services for people affected by MND in Scotland, including: grants, counselling, benefits advice and advocacy. They also invest millions of pounds into ground-breaking MND research in Scotland and across the UK.

Tourism leaders have welcomed the Scottish Government's latest move relax lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks.

The First Minister announced an updated version of the way out of lockdown in a statement to MSPs.

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The route map sets out indicative dates for the easing of some measures, Nicola Sturgeon said.

According to the new document, travel distance restrictions - which see people forced to stay within five miles of their home for recreation - will be relaxed on July 3, along with the opening of self-catering accommodation.

Outdoor hospitality areas such as beer gardens will be able to open if the virus continues to be suppressed on July 6.

The First Minister said: "This greater clarity is possible because of the progress we have made against the virus - but delivering on the milestones depends on that progress continuing."

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said that "this is the announcement that Scotland’s tourism industry has been so eager to hear and will offer huge comfort to thousands of businesses that there is a summer season ahead".

He said: "Much of our self-catering sector can start welcoming guests from July 3 – almost two weeks ahead of the now confirmed reopening date of July 15 which is great news.

"Businesses who can provide outdoor hospitality will also be pleased to have a firm date for opening of July 6, as will those in the supply chain.

"The STA, along with our colleagues at the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to highlight the opportunity there is for certain sectors to open earlier and safely because of their very nature and I know many are ready now to do so. 

"This unlocks major components of our tourism sector and offers Scots the opportunity to plan summer experiences closer to home and boost our local economies.

"We are also delighted at the announcement that all accommodation and indoor hospitality can open from July 15 subject to guidance and restrictions and that our museums and monuments can also reopen from this date.

"While the STA has been instrumental in gathering data, evidence, numbers and projections to highlight the economic impact of government decisions and the opportunities that could exist, we must not lose sight of where we have all been over the last few months."

"We need our employees, visitors and communities to feel safe, reassured, protected and confident. A great deal is at stake – the health of our nation, our economy and indeed the reputation and sustainability of our tourism industry.

"There must be a balanced message around unlocking, opening and safety; it is so important that we get this right."