Before coronavirus arrived in the UK, only 3.8 per cent of the country’s 812,000 call centre workers were based at home, according to research group ContactBabel. By November 2020, homeworking was almost twice as common among call centre staff as in the general workforce. This looks set to remain.
Ireland has refused to pay a ransom to hackers who shut down most of its healthcare systems, leaving doctors unable to access patient records. “Ransom has been sought and won’t be paid,” a spokeswoman for Ireland’s Health Service Executive said. Its Covid-19 vaccination programme is unaffected.
The theory that coronavirus was released accidentally from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan “remains viable” and must be investigated further, a group of senior scientists has said. An investigation into the origin of the pandemic carried out last year by the World Health Organization rejected the idea.
The state of Western Australia has opened applications for funding for community organisations offering relief for India’s coronavirus crisis. The government said it would accept requests for A$100,000 (US$78,000) to A$500,000 in grants from its A$2 million fund to help India through the pandemic.
Ocado non-executive director Jörn Rausing – a member of the Tetra Pak dynasty – was in the buyers’ circle back in March, when he snapped up £16.3m-worth of shares. He continues to build his stake, adding another tranche worth £25.9m on May 7. UK lockdowns pushed Ocado grocery sales up 39 per cent in the most recent quarter.
Fabergé chief executive Sean Gilbertson said the brand wants to grow its annual online sales from around 12 per cent today to a third in three to four years’ time. He said business “was bad but not catastrophic” in 2020, as lockdowns resulted in store closures and the pandemic damped interest in the luxury sector.
Marex, a brokerage controlled by two former Lehman Brothers investment bankers, is considering a listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. Commodity markets have boomed over the past year on the back of strong demand from China, a post-pandemic pick-up and bets on “greening” the world economy.
Apple supplier Foxconn’s first quarter net profit soared compared with the same period last year, when the company’s China-based factories were heavily hit by the first pandemic lockdown. Net earnings reached NT$28.2bn (US$1bn), up from just NT$2.1bn a year earlier. Revenue increased 45 per cent to NT$1.4tn.