Greggs to cut staff hours as coronavirus crisis hits popular high street bakery

Greggs is planning to cut employee hours to ward off mass redundancies when the furlough scheme ends in October.

The high street bakery chain fears it will be forced to make cuts unless it takes steps to protect profits after sales plummetted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand for its famous pasties and sausage rolls have plunged since March after office staff were forced to ship out of workplaces and city centres became ghost towns.

A scorching summer also saw less interest in their hot food.

And there remains huge uncertainty over how many customers it can expect to see through the doors heading into winter as the Covid-19 outbreak keeps many staff at home.

Bosses at the Newcastle-based firm said it has completed a trading review as it looks to ensure its "employment costs reflect the estimated level of demand from November onwards".

The fast food baker also suffered a "challenging month" in August, as the closure of seated areas meant it could not take advantage of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which gave many hospitality firms a much-needed lifeline.

The company said its "immediate priority" is to complete the consultation with staff facing decreased hours and potential job losses.

Greggs said sales have picked up over the past month, as it continues its recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

More people also ate meals outside of their homes in September, which could give it a boost going forward.

The company also said its online food sales are “developing quickly” after it struck a deal with online delivery service Just Eat.

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In a statement, Greggs said: "The outlook for trading remains uncertain, with rising Covid-19 infection rates leading to increasing risks of supply chain interruption and further restrictions on customer activities out of the home.

"In these challenging conditions our teams continue to work hard and have proven our ability to operate with social distancing and adapt to new digital channels."

Since reopening on July 2, its like-for-like sales averaged at 71.2% of its levels from 2019 for the 12-week period to September 26.

In the past month, covering the four weeks to September 26, like-for-like sales were at 76.1% of its levels from the same period last year, as trading improved.

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