Six months of turmoil: How coronavirus has impacted UK firms

Coronavirus has left a devastating impact on economies across the world as well as on the physical health of millions.

Businesses have been forced to close, adapt or otherwise weather the disruption while increasing numbers of cases have caused stock markets to plummet.

Lockdown – introduced 100 days ago in the UK – led to sparse high streets and planes forced to stay on the tarmac, but the expected reopening on July 4 is a silver lining for many businesses.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Britain’s leading companies have fared in the first six months of the year:

– The FTSE 100 – the index of the largest UK companies – opened the year at 7,542.44 on January 2 and closed on June 30 at 6,169.74, a drop of 18.2% in six months.

– It dipped under the 5,000-point barrier on March 23, the day when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a UK-wide partial lockdown.

– The FTSE 250 index – which contains more UK-focused firms – started the year at 21,883.40 and has since suffered a 21.7% fall to close on Tuesday at 17,119.16.

Online supermarket Ocado has performed well in the first six months of the year
Online supermarket Ocado has performed well in the first six months of the year (Nick Potts/PA)

– The price of a company share is influenced by a variety of factors – including news and performance, economic factors, industry trends, market sentiment – and can only give a limited insight into future prospects after lockdown eases. That said, Ocado is the highest riser over the last six months, with shares up 61.02% as people flock to do their shopping online.

– Other FTSE 100 firms to experience price rises include Reckitt Benckiser (19.87%) who make Dettol, Nurofen, and Cillit Bang, and Flutter Entertainment – the holding company containing Paddy Power and Betfair – which has risen 13.99% despite the cancellation of many sporting events.

British Airways planes were grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak
British Airways planes were grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak (Gareth Fuller/PA)

– Among the biggest fallers are companies which may find it harder to bounce back quickly. International Airlines Group, owners of British Airways and Iberia, are down 65.1%, aerospace giant Rolls-Royce announced plans to cut at least 9,000 jobs and its shares fell 58.1% while hotel and restaurant company Whitbread fell 47.17%.

– Travel and entertainment companies in the FTSE 250 have taken a strong hit over the past six months with Cineworld down 72.5%, Carnival down 73% and one of the world’s largest tour operators TUI falling 61.6%.

– AO Group, the online-only retailer of household appliances, is up 67.8% while the Allianz Technology Trust – an investment trust – has been boosted by strong performance in technology stocks and is up 38.3%.

– Two online fashion retailers listed on the Alternative Investment Market have also seen growth in share price as high street sales collapsed. Boohoo.com is up 37.8% since January 2 while Asos is trading at 3,423p, up 3% since the start of the year.

– Outside the UK, video communications company Zoom has become a household name as more companies have used the platform to stay in touch with employees working from home while friends have caught up using the software. The growth in customers has been matched with a 268% increase in share price in six months to 253.54 dollars.

– One of the most significant impacts of the lockdown and Covid-19 more generally has been employment. Early indicators for May from the Office of National Statistics suggested the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down over 600,000 compared with March.

– Companies have also suggested further cuts are on the horizon, with Royal Mail announcing 2,000 job losses last week following similar news from firms including British Gas owner Centrica and airlines easyJet and British Airways.

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