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Greggs Wants to Reopen Its 2,000 Bakeries by 1 July

The company’s estate relies on around 25,000 employees, and the reopening date is when the government’s job support scheme runs out

Greggs wants to open its bakeries on the U.K. high street out of coronavirus lockdown by July
Greggs, which has laid out an ambitious reopening plan
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

An ambitious plan that depends on its workers

Greggs has outlined a reopening plan in a letter to its near 25,000 staff, according to Big Hospitality. Chief executive Roger Whiteside suggests that its 2,000-plus stores could reopen by 1 July, with an initial 20 site pilot in Newcastle from 4 May and a further phased reopening in early June.

Whiteside writes that this is a “controlled trial” designed to evaluate the operational procedures necessary to keep staff and customers safe; the letter does not offer which measures will be in place from the start of the trial, or specifically how staff involved in that trial can ensure their safety is protected. He does, however, confirm that expected declining sales will mean the majority of staff will remain on furlough; along with Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme, Greggs received a £150 million government coronavirus loan in April.

Greggs, like Pret a Manger, KFC, and Burger King, all of which have brought back sites in recent days, describes itself as reliant on “volunteers” for these reopenings. One account of the company’s policy in the last days before lockdown contextualises what this might mean: a brand that has recently reinvented itself as a pop culture icon “still makes a profit in the same way as the self-styled bad guys of the food service industry — by overworking and underpaying its frontline staff.” With Whiteside noting that decline in sales, but planning to open all bakeries by the day that furlough support currently runs out, it remains to be seen what the company will do with staff who are not required to work. Reopening is dependent on those staff — and customers will be watching how it treats them in this phased plan. [Big Hospitality]

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