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Business briefing: Avanti takes over Virgin Trains’ west coast service

AVANTI West Coast has been unveiled as the name of the operator replacing Virgin Trains after 22 years.

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup and Italian firm Trenitalia yesterday announced the brand name for their partnership which will run services on the west coast route from December 8.

Trains and station signs will display an orange triangle logo symbolising the 400-mile rail network that links London with towns and cities across England, North Wales and Scotland.

Bosses have pledged to deliver a range of passenger enhancements, including 263 more weekly services by 2022.

The existing 56 Pendolino trains will be refurbished with 25,000 new seats, more reliable wifi and improved catering. A fleet of new locomotives will also be introduced. The operator plans to simplify fares and ticketing, refresh station waiting rooms, boost accessibility and offer more car park spaces.

The partnership between FirstGroup and Trenitalia is also due to operate initial HS2 services, although the future of that project is in doubt and a decision expected after the General Election.

FirstGroup already operates three franchises — Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and TransPennine Express — under the name First Rail.

Trenitalia runs trains on the c2c line between east London and Shoeburyness in Essex.

First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery (pictured) said Avanti West Coast will ‘generate national prosperity and pride’. ‘Avanti’ means forward in Italian and he said the name ‘enshrines the type of forward-thinking operation we intend to run’.

Sour-doh! Bakers go to war over loaf label

ARTISAN bakers have declared a bread war on major brands by claiming high street sourdough loaves aren’t genuine.

The Real Bread Campaign (RBC) accused ‘industrial loaf makers’ of creating a ‘sour-faux free-for-all’ which has affected independent bakers.

It comes after trade bodies for big brands — including Warburtons — presented Defra with ideas for labelling guidelines to ‘clarify the term’ sourdough. But the RBC said these include ‘non-traditional’ additives, leavening agents and yeast. Defra has been asked for a comment.

Jenners set to leave historic Edinburgh site

Fixture: Jenners has been on Princes Street since 1838 PICTURE: ALAMY

THE iconic Jenners department store could be moving from Princes Street in Edinburgh after 181 years.

The House of Fraser-owned store, which has traded at its current location since 1838, is said to be relocating after the building’s Danish owner Anders Holch Povlsen unveiled an upgrade which will include a rooftop restaurant, bar and hotel.

Unite’s Bryan Simpson claimed staff found out via social media, which was ‘completely unacceptable but not surprising’. Talks are taking place to see if Jenners can stay in a smaller form or move to a new retail quarter. It comes weeks after a Poundland outlet opened on Princes Street.

BUSINESS BITES

■ SOFA chain ScS’s sales slid 7.1 per cent in the 17 weeks to November 23 amid ‘ongoing economic and political uncertainties’. The group, which has its HQ in Sunderland, last month posted a £14.3million profit.

■ BRITISH American Tobacco expects to capitalise on crackdowns after deaths linked to e-cigs in the US. Its vape market share has grown and it says it is ‘well-placed to succeed in a tougher regulatory environment’.

■ NEW Look and Iceland investor Brait plans to sell assets over the next five years to shore up finances. Losses at the South African firm fell to £70million for the last half year, from £168million this time last year.

■ PEPSI-MAKER Britvic reported ‘disappointing’ results in France as it revealed pre-tax profit fell 24 per cent to £110.3million. France has new pricing regulations and laws restricting promotions.

■ TRAVEL agent On The Beach saw annual profits plunge 26 per cent to £19.4million, due to the collapse of Thomas Cook. But its rival’s demise offers an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to boost its market share, it added.