Greggs the baker announces 800 stores will reopen Thursday

16 June 2020, 08:21

The high street baker plans to reopen with a new look to ensure safety
The high street baker plans to reopen with a new look to ensure safety. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

High Street bakers Greggs has announced 800 stores will reopen for takeaways from Thursday with them aim of having all branches open by early July.

The stores will open with a new look at the sausage roll seller seeks to become Covid-19 secure ensuring customers are able to socially distance and staff remain safe.

The new-look stores will introduce one way systems, protective screens at counters, floor markings indicating how far apart customers should remain, and extra protective equipment for staff.

The baker will be introducing a reduced menu to ensure kitchen staff are able to socially-distance.

The baker plans to reopen all stores by early July
The baker plans to reopen all stores by early July. Picture: PA

Like in many other businesses customers will be encouraged to pay for their pasties and rolls with a contactless card rather than cash.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "Looking forward, although great uncertainty remains, we are excited to be resuming our service for many customers this week."

"We are confident of our ability to adapt to market conditions in the short term while continuing to invest in the long-term growth of our business."

But the chain warned it would be seeking lower rents from landlords to reflect the reduced levels of custom. Greggs has also informed landlords it will be moving to monthly, rather than quarterly, payments from June, in a move that will help it conserve cash.

Greggs warned sales are likely to remain subdued as the chain copes with fewer customers allowed in stores at any one time, following a series of small-scale trials near its offices.

As a result of the expected fall in sales, an unspecified proportion of staff "will remain furloughed until sales levels begin returning to normal", the company said.

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The Newcastle-based business has taken a tentative approach to reopening, with management keen to avoid any rushes or overcrowding at sites following its three-month closure.

Rivals KFC and McDonald's have seen long car queues for drive-thru services and non-essential retailers were greeted with hundreds of shoppers waiting to snap up a bargain, as stores were able to reopen their doors on Monday.

Greggs had been allowed to stay open throughout the lockdown, offering takeaway and delivery services.

But bosses declined, saying it felt remaining open would compromise the safety of its employees.

Updating the stock market on Tuesday morning, the company added it remains cautious and warned sales may fall.

It said: "We are not able to predict the impact of social distancing on our ability to trade or on customer demand.

"However, 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.

"This will require us to maintain a proportion of our colleagues on furlough, either fully or partially, until sales levels begin returning to normal.

"In anticipation of lower sales, we have limited our initial product range to our best sellers and therefore a number of our manufacturing operational teams will remain furloughed until demand reaches a level that justifies the addition of remaining product lines."

Longer term, the company added it has temporarily suspended its new shop opening plans, beyond those legally committed to, with just 10 new sites expected.