June 16, 2020 / 6:25 AM / 18 days ago

Greggs sausage rolls back on British menu as shops reopen

LONDON (Reuters) - Greggs (GRG.L) plans to reopen 800 shops this week, ending a near three month wait for Britons hankering to snack on one of the baker’s sausage rolls and lifting its share price.

FILE PHOTO: Customers queue outside a Greggs store that reopened in Newcastle, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Newcastle, Britain, May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Lee Smith

The move by Greggs, also known for its steak bakes, vegan snacks and sweet treats, to open some of its doors on Thursday follows this week’s reopening of non-essential retail in England.

Greggs said on Tuesday it could not predict the impact of social distancing on its ability to trade or on demand.

“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,” it said.

Greggs, which closed all of its more than 2,050 shops on March 24 when Britain went into lockdown, will reopen for takeaway and non-cash payment only, and with a limited menu.

This follows a successful trial of a small number of shops which tested operational changes, including new workwear, equipment and social distancing measures.

Shares in Greggs, which said it plans to reopen the rest of its shops in early July, were up 4.7% at 0819 GMT.

Greggs has accelerated its development of delivery through Just Eat (TKWY.AS) and ‘click and collect’, with 19 shops in this week’s reopening offering these services.

It said it would keep a proportion of its 25,000 staff on the government’s job retention furlough scheme until sales levels begin returning to normal.

Greggs has temporarily suspended its new shop opening programme, with the exception of a few where it was already

legally committed or anticipates strong customer traffic, and now expects to open about 60 shops and close about 50 this year.

It is also making proposals to landlords in return for rent reductions and will move to monthly rent payments from June.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle and Alexander Smith

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