Greggs resumes store openings but continues Covid cost-cutting

The bakery chain Greggs has resumed store openings and is bringing back a broader product range as sales slowly recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

Greggs, which has 2,039 shops, said it would open another 20 this year, mainly in locations such as petrol forecourts, retail parks and supermarkets rather than the high street. Before the pandemic it had planned to open 100 new shops this year.

In a trading update the food retailer said that after a “difficult” month in August – when it missed out on the government’s eat out to help out scheme because customers could not eat in at its shops – September has been better. Sales this month have returned to 76% of their pre-pandemic levels and the chain has reopened customer seating with physical distancing in 100 of its larger shops.

Greggs warned in late July that it would have to consider making job cuts once the government’s furlough scheme ends on 31 October. To minimise job losses, it is consulting with trade unions and employee representatives on reducing working hours in up to half its outlets. Greggs employs 25,000 people, the majority of whom work in its shops.

Greggs said: “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.”

In response to higher demand, Greggs is bringing back more of its products, including a broader sandwich range and its Belgian buns. It had limited its product range to bestsellers such as its vegan sausage roll to keep costs down.

Its click-and-collect service is now available in all shops, allowing customers to pre-order and pay ahead of visiting to collect their order. Greggs is also rolling out a national delivery service in partnership with Just Eat. In the most recent week delivery accounted for 2.6% of shop sales.

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