// Greggs to reopen 800 stores from Thursday for takeaway only
// The remaining 1000 stores will reopen by early July
// Reopened stores will have a reduced menu to ensure social distancing in kitchens & workspaces
Greggs has announced plans to reopen around 800 stores for takeaways from Thursday with the aim of welcoming customers to its remaining 1000 sites by early July.
Bosses unveiled the new-look stores, with floor markings, protective clothes for staff and screens at counters among several measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
There will also be a reduced menu to ensure social distancing in kitchens and workspaces.
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Greggs warned sales are likely to remain subdued as the bakery 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 high street chain said.
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.
Greggs had been allowed to stay open throughout the lockdown, offering takeaway and delivery services.
However, bosses declined, saying it felt remaining open would compromise the safety of its employees.
Updating the stock market on Tuesday morning, Greggs added it remains cautious and warned sales may fall.
“We are not able to predict the impact of social distancing on our ability to trade or on customer demand,” it said.
“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 bakery chain added it has temporarily suspended its new shop opening plans, beyond those legally committed to, with just 10 new sites expected.
Greggs has also spoken to landlords with a “variety of proposals in return for rent reductions” and will switch to monthly payments from June, following a full quarterly rent payment in March.
“Looking forward, although great uncertainty remains, we are excited to be resuming our service for many customers this week,” chief executive Roger Whiteside said.
“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.”
with PA Wires