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Coronavirus: Greggs confirms reopening plans but some branches will disappear

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·Finance and policy reporter
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Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of one of their on the go stores, as falafel and hummus helped power sales at the bakery chain in the first half of the year, with the sausage roll-maker reaping the rewards of a wider range of healthy eating options.
A Greggs store before the lockdown. (PA)

Greggs is planning to reopen 800 of its branches on Thursday, but confirmed dozens of stores face closure for good with the coronavirus expected to hit sales.

The bakery chain (GRG.L) announced it had successfully trialled social distancing measures, and would reopen hundreds of branches for takeaway-only food and drink. The remaining stores will reopen in July, according to a trading update on Tuesday.

But it said its plans to launch new stores had been suspended where possible, and in total around 60 new branches will open but another 50 will close this year.

READ MORE: High street visits down 44% despite Primark queues

The pandemic has also “accelerated” its development of delivery and click-and-collect services, which 19 of the stores reopening will offer. Similar services will be extended elsewhere “as soon as possible.”

The bakery chain, which has more than 2,000 stores nationwide, also said in a trading update it could not predict exactly how social distancing would affect its ability to trade or customer demand.

READ MORE: Wetherspoon to reopen pubs with screens and staff in goggles

But it added: “Our capacity to operate will be restricted by size of shop and we must anticipate that sales may be lower than normal for some time.”

It has also approached landlords making “a variety of proposals” in exchange for rent reductions, and it has begun paying monthly rents from June. Full quarterly rents were paid in March, according to the retailer.

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