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UK News Greggs warns of tough times for 'foreseeable future' as it plans cuts

11:40  29 september  2020
11:40  29 september  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Bakery chain Greggs has hinted at possible job cuts as the government's furlough scheme ends. The company, which employs 25,000 workers, expects business activity to "remain below normal for the foreseeable future ". It said it had reviewed staff costs and was currently consulting with unions and

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a person standing in front of a store: Greggs said it would seek to minimise the risk of job losses © Getty Greggs said it would seek to minimise the risk of job losses Greggs has warned that trading will remain "below normal for the foreseeable future" as it plans cost-cutting measures that could see jobs go.

The high street bakery chain said sales were recovering but were still almost 25% below last year's levels in recent weeks, following an even tougher August.

It confirmed that it had launched a consultation with employee and union representatives, first revealed earlier this month, but would seek "minimise the risk of job losses" by instead reducing hours in shops.

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Coventry, UK - November 3, 2018: Greggs is the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom. It specialises in savoury products such as bakes, sausage rolls and sandwiches and sweet items including doughnuts and vanilla slices. Coventry, UK - November 3, 2018: Greggs is the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom. It specialises in savoury products such as bakes, sausage rolls and sandwiches and sweet items including doughnuts and vanilla slices.

Greggs, best known for its sausage rolls, is launching the plan as the government's furlough scheme comes to an end.

"With the Job Retention Scheme planned to end in October we are taking steps to ensure that our employment costs reflect the estimated level of demand from November onwards," Greggs said.

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"With business activity levels remaining below normal for the foreseeable future we must change the way we work to be as productive and flexible as we can in order to protect as many jobs as possible for the long term."

The company pointed to an uncertain outlook with the risk of rising COVID-19 infection rates disrupting its supply chains and resulting in lockdown rules tightening.

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Shares fell 4% in early trading.

Greggs said sales in the 12 weeks to 26 September in its company-managed shops averaged 71.2% of 2019 levels though they improved to 76.1% in the most recent four weeks.

Trading was held back in August as the company was not able to take part in the government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme - with its own seated food service still closed at that time.

Hot weather also made it a "difficult month", Greggs said, though there has been a recovery this month thanks to "increased out-of-home activity".

Shuttered Greggs bakery shop front on the High Street. Showing branding and logo sign. Spring day. Billericay, Essex, United Kingdom, April 2, 2020 Shuttered Greggs bakery shop front on the High Street. Showing branding and logo sign. Spring day. Billericay, Essex, United Kingdom, April 2, 2020

The company said it was bringing back more of its products and reopening customer seating in larger shops, adding that its click and collect offer is now available stores and delivery partnership with Just Eat was "progressing at speed".

Newcastle-based Greggs, which has more than 2,000 UK stores, said it was partially restarting its shop opening programme and expects to add a net 20 this year.

It acknowledged an "ongoing challenge" to operations after a "COVID-19 occurrence" saw a distribution centre in Leeds close temporarily last month and another at a manufacturing site in Newcastle.

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."

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Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

Greggs warns its outlook is uncertain due to increased restrictions .
The food-to-go specialist said it suffered a 'challenging month' in August, as the closure of seated areas meant it was unable to benefit from Eat Out to Help Out. High temperatures also made August a 'difficult month' for trading, but more people ate outside of their homes in September which it believes drove improvements.In comes in the context of a bloodbath on the high street, with 192,831 job losses announced by major British employers since the start of the lockdown in March. Since reopening on July 2, the Newcastle-based firm's like-for-like sales averaged at 71.

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