Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza owner to axe 5,000 jobs amid coronavirus crisis

1 July 2020, 07:29

London, Waterloo Station, Upper Crust, sandwich shop, kiosk
London, Waterloo Station, Upper Crust, sandwich shop, kiosk. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Upper Crust owner SSP has said up to 5,000 jobs are under threat as it shakes up the group following plunging passenger numbers at railway stations and airports due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The group has launched a consultation on restructuring the business as the coronavirus lockdown begins to impact on sales with a decrease in passengers and falling revenues.

Rail union RMT said the "savage" job cuts highlight the need for the Government to step in and help the rail sector and support services amid the coronavirus crisis.

Amid warnings the group only expects to open around a fifth of its sites in the UK by the autumn as the number of people travelling is expected to remain low as the impacts of Covid-19 continue to be felt.

It has launched a consultation on a restructure to "simplify and reshape" the business in the face of the pandemic, which it said could lead to more than half of its 9,000-strong peak season workforce being axed.

The group said head office and UK staff would be affected by the cuts.

Chief executive Simon Smith said: "In the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow.

"In response to this, we are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations.

"Regrettably, we are starting a collective consultation which will affect our UK colleagues.

"These are extremely difficult decisions, and our main priority will be to conduct the process carefully and fairly."

Mick Lynch, assistant general secretary at rail union RMT, said: "The news that Upper Crust, major caterers on Britain's railway stations, have announced savage job cuts shows that support services across the rail industry are facing a real crisis in the months ahead which will hammer both the workforce and those who rely on their facilities if the Government doesn't intervene as the lockdown eases.

"Our railway stations are in danger of ending up as ghost towns as we emerge from the pandemic.

"Every member of the rail workforce from caterers to cleaners and those who operate trains and track is important to our future success and RMT will be demanding of the Government that no one is left behind."