Greggs in talks to cut staff hours to ‘minimise risk of job losses’

High street bakery chain Greggs has said it is in talks with staff over cutting employee hours “to minimise the risk of job losses” when the furlough scheme ends next month.

The Newcastle-based business said it has completed a review of its trading operations as it looks to ensure its “employment costs reflect the estimated level of demand from November onwards”.

It told investors its “immediate priority” is to complete the consultation and confirm the financial impact of the move when the consultation ends in November.

The update came as Greggs said that sales have picked up over the past month, as it continues its recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

The food-to-go specialist said it suffered a “challenging month” in August, as the closure of seated areas meant it was unable to benefit from Eat Out to Help Out.

High temperatures also made August a “difficult month” for trading, it said.

However, more people ate meals outside of their homes in September, which it believes helped to drive improvements.

Since reopening on July 2, its like-for-like sales averaged at 71.2% of its levels from 2019 for the 12-week period to September 26.

In the past month, covering the four weeks to September 26, like-for-like sales were at 76.1% of its levels from the same period last year, as trading improved.

Greggs said its digital business is “developing quickly” after increased investment during the lockdown period, partnering with food delivery operator Just Eat.

In a statement, Greggs said: “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.

“In these challenging conditions our teams continue to work hard and have proven our ability to operate with social distancing and adapt to new digital channels.”