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Greggs to axe 820 jobs as COVID-19 and lockdowns hit business

Suban Abdulla
·2-min read
London, UK, May 27, 2020, Greggs High Street Food Take Out Bakers Planning To Open Stores After UK Coronavirus COVID-19 Lockdown
The Newcastle-based chain, which employs 25,000 workers across 2,000 shops will be losing about 3% of its workforce. Photo: Getty

Greggs (GRG.L) is set to slash 820 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns continue to devastate UK high streets.

The boss of the bakery chain warned that Greggs “will not be profitable as a business” if sales continue at the rates they have been in lockdown.

The Newcastle-based chain, which employs 25,000 workers across 2,000 shops will be losing about 3% of its workforce.

In a statement posted on the Greggs employee information website earlier this week, chief executive Roger Whiteside said that coronavirus trading conditions “forced this action” onto the business.

READ MORE: WH Smith to close 25 stores after falling to £280m loss

“We are all very saddened by the need to part company with around 820 friends and colleagues, many of whom have worked with us for many years,” Whiteside added.

He went on to say that the battle with the pandemic “hasn't gone away and is intensifying further" as lockdown measures continue to be in place across the UK — with England in full lockdown till 2 December.

“At lockdown levels of sales, even after all of the mitigating action that we have taken, Greggs will not be profitable as a business and there can be no room for complacency.”

In September, Greggs said it was in talks with staff to cut hours to try and minimise job losses when the furlough scheme was expected to end in October.

Greggs shares, year to date. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Greggs shares, year to date. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Whiteside told reporters at the time: “Some stores have staff hours which are just off what’s needed for current demand. But others are a long way off and will need significant change.”

It comes a host of other businesses across all sectors have been forced to axe jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

On Thursday, Newsagent WH Smith (SMWH.L) has announced plans to close another 25 shops after slumping to a £280m loss.

Last week, Plane engine-maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) has announced it plans 1,370 job cuts worldwide as it battles to get through the crisis facing global aviation.

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) warned 3,500 jobs were at risk and Caterpillar (CAT) axed up to 700 roles last week. John Lewis announced it would cut 1,500 head office staff, Clarks said it would axe at least 700 roles and Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) said it would cut a net 730 roles.

Watch: Why job losses have risen despite the economy reopening