Greggs to cut jobs as outlook uncertain

© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Newcastle

LONDON (Reuters) – British baker Greggs said on Tuesday its sales had improved in September after a slow August but cautioned that the outlook was uncertain because of COVID-19 and it would have to cut staff jobs and hours.

Greggs, best known for its sausage rolls and vegan snacks, said it had launched a consultation with union and employee representatives.

“Our aim is to minimise the risk of job losses by negotiating reduced hours in our shops,” it said.

Greggs said that since fully reopening on July 2 like-for-like sales in company-managed shops averaged 71.2% of their 2019 level in the 12 weeks to Sept. 26.

It said in the most recent four weeks of that period like-for-like sales averaged 76.1% of their 2019 level.

“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,” it warned.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the British people to work from home where possible and ordered restaurants and bars to close early to tackle a spike in the pandemic, with new restrictions likely to last six months.

The government has said it is also mulling tougher restrictions.

Greggs was performing well before the pandemic hit and its shares hit a record high of 2,550 pence in January. But they closed Monday at 1,219 pence, down 47% year to date.

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