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Brooks Brothers, the men’s clothier that traces its roots back to 1818, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, as the brand buckled under the pressure from the coronavirus pandemic following years of declining sales as customers embraced more casual apparel and sales shifted online.
The company, founded and based in New York, filed for Chapter 11 restructuring proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Claudio del Vecchio, the Italian industrialist who bought the brand in 2001, told The New York Times in a May interview that he would not rule out Chapter 11 as a possibility for the company.
Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, which has dressed all but four U.S. presidents, said earlier this year that it planned to close its three U.S. factories.
The company is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy since the pandemic forced widespread store closures and pushed the economy into a deep recession, among them department store chains Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney, as well as clothier J. Crew. — Sapna Maheshwari
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The U.K. government’s top financial official announced a host of tax and spending measures on Wednesday to preserve and create jobs in Britain as the country anticipates a wave of layoffs caused by the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the Exchequer, unveiled to Parliament a 30 billion pound ($37.7 billion) proposal that included tax cuts, employment coaching and even a 50 percent discount for diners who go to restaurants and pubs.
“Despite the extraordinary support we’ve already provided, we face profound economic challenges,” Mr. Sunak said. “Taken together in just two months, our economy contracted by 25 percent, the same amount it grew in the previous 18 years.” With more job losses forecast, he added: “I will never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome.”
But he said Britain’s furlough program, which has paid up to 80 percent of the wages of 9.4 million workers since March, would end in October, as previously announced. Keeping it longer, he said, would provide “false hope” to workers. Instead, employers will receive £1,000 for each employee they bring back to work through January.
Among the initiatives Mr. Sunak introduced:
£2 billion to pay the wages for up to six months for young people aged 16 to 24 offered new jobs.
A temporary cut to Britain’s VAT, a type of sales tax, for the hospitality and tourism industries to 5 percent from 20 percent.
An “Eat Out to Help Out” discount, cutting in half the cost of meals eaten in restaurants and pubs, up to £10 per person.
A reduction in the stamp duty, which is a tax paid on home purchases.
£3 billion targeted at creating green jobs by funding vouchers to pay for home insulation and making public buildings more energy efficient. — Eshe Nelson
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
U.S. stock futures were mixed and European stocks dipped on Wednesday, as investors considered the latest fiscal efforts to support economies and new friction between the United States and China.
Futures wavered, predicting a choppy start to trading on Wall Street. European indexes were about 1 percent lower. Asian markets ended the trading session mostly lower with the exception of China’s indexes, where positive gains reflected recent efforts by the government to encourage stock-buying.
Prices for United States 10-year Treasuries were lower, while oil futures were mainly unchanged.
The uncertainty in the markets seemed to mirror the mixed signals in the global economy as it continues to endure the coronavirus pandemic. In Britain, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was expected to announce further steps to support businesses, homeowners and young workers. Among the proposals leaked in advance of his speech are a fund to create six-month work placements for people aged 16 to 24 who are receiving welfare payments and are at risk of long-term unemployment, and a measure aimed at stimulating the real estate market by relieving sales taxes on property transfers. .
Among the company trading lower on Wednesday was HSBC, the London-based bank with a big presence in Hong Kong. Analysts said investors were concerned by reports by Bloomberg News that the Trump administration might restrict the ability of Hong Kong banks to buy U.S. dollars. The move, intended to undermine the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar, would be a way to punish China for tightening political freedoms in Hong Kong. HSBC shares traded in Hong Kong fell more than 4 percent.
Among Asian stock indexes, the Nikkei in Japan fell 0.8 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent, and the Shanghai Composite ended the day 1.7 percent higher.
Many countries have rushed out apps to trace and monitor the coronavirus this spring, only to scramble to address serious complaints that soon arose over extensive user data-mining or poor security practices.
Human rights groups and technologists have warned that the design of many apps put hundreds of millions of people at risk for stalking, fraud, identity theft or oppressive government tracking — and could undermine trust in public health efforts. The problems have emerged just as some countries are poised to deploy even more intrusive technologies, including asking hundreds of thousands of workers to wear virus-tracking wristbands around the clock.
In mid-June, after a barrage of criticism from privacy advocates, Britain abandoned the virus-tracing app it was developing and announced it was switching to software from Apple and Google that the companies have promoted as more “privacy-preserving.”
In May, after Amnesty International identified major security flaws with a mandatory virus exposure-alert app in Qatar, the government quickly released an update with new security features.
In fact, “the vast majority” of virus-tracing apps used by governments lack adequate security and “are easy for hackers” to attack, according to a recent software analysis by Guardsquare, a mobile app security company.
“It’s a cautionary tale for governments aggregating such an enormous amount of data,” said Claudio Guarnieri, the head of Amnesty International’s Security Lab who identified the problems with the Qatari app. — Natasha Singer
United Airlines said on Tuesday that it was cutting back on the August flight schedule it announced just last week because travel demand was sliding again as coronavirus cases surged across much of the country.
United management told employees this week that it expected to fly about 35 percent as many flights next month as it did last August, down from the 40 percent it announced a week ago, the airline said in a securities filing released after the market close.
The airline said its flight schedule for the rest of the year was likely to look much like its reconfigured August plan because the recovery would remain choppy. The airline does not expect demand to recover fully until a “widely accepted” treatment or vaccine for the virus is available. United had operated about 12 percent as many flights in June as it did last year and expects to operate about 25 percent as many flights in July compared with the same month last year.
Demand for flights started to fall as the recent increase in cases nationwide — and the associated travel and quarantine restrictions — made flying less appealing, United said. Bookings for upcoming flights at the airline’s Newark hub, for example, had started to recover in the first half of June only to reverse course after Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, said on June 24 they would require travelers visiting from states with rising infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.
The airline also said that it planned to send out legally required notices to workers by mid-July warning of possible layoffs once federal aid to the aviation industry expires at the end of September. Those affected could be notified as soon as next month, United said. — Niraj Chokshi
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will reopen on Saturday, and the Walt Disney Company has been posting marketing videos online to highlight the safety procedures it has designed to protect visitors and employees.
Some of the 1,000-plus responses to that particular video were supportive. Others were incredulous, with people using words like “irresponsible” and “disappointing.
The pandemic has devastated Disney’s businesses, and reopening its signature tourist attraction — with restricted capacity and government approval — is a major part of the company’s comeback attempt. But in doing so, Disney is stepping into a politicized debate surrounding the virus and efforts to keep people safe, where even the wearing of masks has become a point of bitter contention.
The Florida Department of Health reported 7,347 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, with 1,179 in the central part of the state, which includes Orlando. Those numbers are down from last week but still among the highest in the country, leading some to question whether Disney is being responsible in opening up Disney World.
“The world is changing around us, but we strongly believe that we can open safely and responsibly,” Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park chairman, said in an interview. “For those that might have questions or concerns, when they see how we are operating and the aggressive protocols that we have put in place, they will understand. This is our new normal.” — Brooks Barnes