Barclays has taken a further £1.6 billion hit from the coronavirus crisis in the second quarter of the year even as the investment arm of the bank managed to keep it in profit.

The bank said it would see a pre-tax profit of £1.27 billion in the first half of the financial year, down from £3 billion the year before. It came on revenue of £11.62 billion in the first half of 2020.

Analysts had been expecting the impairment charge to reach a little over £1.4 billion as the company prepared for a slew of bad loans.

Earlier this year Barclays revealed a £2.1 billion hit in its first quarter, citing the impact of coronavirus. It takes the total impairment for the first half to £3.7 billion.

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However, while the retail arm of the bank saw a major hit from the coronavirus, the bank's corporate investment arm saw a 31% jump in income to £6.9 billion.

It helped keep Barclays in the black during the first half, and will be seen as a win for chief executive Jes Staley's "diversified model" - one that he highlighted on Wednesday.

"Credit impairment charges increased to £3.7 billion in the first half due to the forecast impact of Covid-19. However, our improved pre-impairment performance ensured that we still delivered £1.3 billion profit before tax for the first half of 2020, post impairment," he said.

"While the remainder of 2020 will be challenging, our diversified model means we can remain financially resilient and continue to support our customers and clients."
The bank has been a major lender in schemes to help small businesses through the coronavirus crisis.

On Wednesday it revealed that coronavirus loans worth £10.2 billion had been given to Barclays customers under three government-backed schemes.

The schemes - Bounce Back Loans, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) and the CLBILS scheme for bigger firms - were in part backed by the Treasury which promises to shoulder some of the interest and other burdens.

Mr Staley said: "This has been a period focused on supporting our customers, clients and the UK economy through the Covid-19 pandemic - providing the people and businesses that we serve with a bridge to recovery in every way we can.

"To help consumers with their short-term household finances, more than 600,000 payment holidays have been provided, along with other fee waivers and support measures."

Clothes retailer Next has said the second quarter of the year was much better than it had expected as full-price sales dropped 28%.

The fall was better than the best-case scenario that Next had forecast in April, and comes after online sales rose 9% over the three months, offsetting a drop in shop sales even after they reopened.

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It was a big swing from the one-third drop in online sales in the three months to April 25.

Next told shareholders on Wednesday morning: "Our experience over the last 13 weeks has given us much greater clarity on our online capabilities during lockdown and the state of consumer demand, and we are now more optimistic about the outlook for the full year than we were at the height of the pandemic."

In April, the company said its best-case scenario for the year involved a 30% drop in full-price sales. Its updated best case predicts an 18% drop.

The news sent shares up 9% to 5,744p.

Julie Palmer, a partner at restructuring expert Begbies Traynor, said: "Next is a pioneer for the retail sector and has bucked the high street trend and seen sales start to climb against the grain of retail decline.

"But the fall-out from the coronavirus is the company's latest test and chief executive Simon Wolfson will be wary that the challenges are only just beginning."

The business is now estimating a £195 million pre-tax profit, while it will pay off £460 million of its £1.1 billion debt.

But, while online sales performed better in the second quarter than it had this time last year, sales in shops dropped by 72% as the pandemic forced them to close.

Even since they reopened, like-for-like sales in the shops have dropped by 32%, Next said.

Ms Palmer added: "The retailer has invested heavily in its digital offering, which has kept the business on solid ground, countering the drop in physical store sales.

"However, with low footfalls, the company will need to remain resilient and innovate to successfully navigate through the current uncertainty and attract consumers.

"It may need to follow the trend of supermarkets and shift high street staff to delivery and warehouse teams in order to cater for the greater demand and make its offering work during this coronavirus crisis."

Aston Martin saw sales drop by half in its global dealerships in the second quarter of the year as the coronavirus crisis shut down showrooms.

The manufacturer of James Bond's vehicle of choice said the second quarter of the year had been much worse than the first - which was unaffected by Covid in the first few weeks.

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Its luxury dealerships sold 1,770 cars across both quarters, a drop of 41% overall.
It pushed the company further into the red as loss before tax ballooned to £227.4 million, from £80 million in the same period last year.

Revenue dropped 64% to £146 million, from £406 million.

However the results are likely to be better three months from now as nine in 10 of the dealerships have reopened.

In China, where Aston Martin restarted sales in June, retail sales are up 11% - an "encouraging" sign, bosses said on Wednesday.

Shares rose by around 8% on opening on Wednesday.

It has been a turbulent six months for Aston Martin, which was forced to raise £688 million from a consortium of shareholders led by new chairman Lawrence Stroll.

He said: "Obviously, it has been a challenging period with our dealers and factories closed due to Covid-19, in addition to aligning our sales with inventory with the associated impact on financial performance as we reposition for future success.

"However, I have been most impressed that through this most challenging of times we have been able to reduce our dealers' sports car inventory by 869 units."

Meanwhile, the business said that an accounting method error in the US had forced it to recalculate some of its figures from last year.

It meant a reduction of £15.3 million in earnings before interest and tax in 2019.

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