Greggs weighs up job cuts when furlough scheme ends

The Guardian-5 months before

Greggs has said sales will not recover to pre-pandemic levels for as long as social distancing rules are in place, but the bakery chain on Tuesday added it was “encouraged” by its performance since reopening.

Sales at reopened shops reached 72% of last year’s levels in the week to 25 July, Greggs said, as it reported a £65.2m loss for the first half of 2020. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of all its 2,050 stores, sending sales down by 49% on a like-for-like basis.

However, the chief executive, Roger Whiteside, acknowledged that the company would have to ...onsider staffing levels if demand has not recovered further by the time the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) closes in October. The scheme has paid 80% of the salaries of workers up to £2,500 a month, but many economists and business leaders expect an increase in unemployment in the coming months as firms adjust to lower demand.

business leaders expect an increase in unemployment Greggs has limited its product range to bestsellers such as its vegan sausage roll in anticipation of lower sales, meaning about a quarter of its staff, concentrated in areas such as production and central operations, are still on furlough. The company’s statement said: “The continued use of the CJRS will be crucial in supporting jobs whilst demand recovers.”

vegan sausage roll Whiteside said he would delay any decision on staffing “to the last possible moment so we get a better view”.

“We want to give as much time as possible for demand to rise,” he said. “We employ people to serve customers ... It’s a question of activity really.”

Greggs shops were closed from 23 March until it started reopening 800 stores on 18 June. Total sales in the 26 weeks to 27 June were £300.6m, compared with £546.3m in the previous year.

started reopening 800 stores on 18 June “The broad appeal of the brand, which is not materially dependent on office-based workers, means we are less impacted by social distancing than many,” Greggs said.

“The majority of our shops are located in towns and suburbs, or catchments that are generally accessed by car. However, we still expect sales to remain below normal for as long as social distancing is required.”

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