July 1, 2020 / 7:16 AM / 4 days ago

Upper Crust owner SSP warns of 5,000 job cuts due to restructuring

A man wearing a protective mask walks past an Upper Crust at Victoria Station in London, Britain July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

(Reuters) - Upper Crust owner SSP (SSPG.L) said on Wednesday it could cut about 5,000 jobs in a proposed restructuring of its UK business due to very low passenger numbers even as coronavirus-led restrictions ease.

SSP, which operates food and beverage outlets in airports and train stations in 36 countries, said the job cuts will affect its head office and UK operations.

“We are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some parts of the world and are starting to open units as passenger demand picks up. However, in the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow,” Chief Executive Officer Simon Smith said.

The company had about 40,000 employees before the outbreak and expects restructuring costs to be up to 10 million pounds ($12.37 million).

SSP said sales in June recovered slightly and are now running at about 90% below last year, with stronger performances in Continental Europe and North America offset by lower sales in the UK and the rest of the world.

The Ritazza owner said in the rail sector, which represents the majority of SSP’s UK operations, passenger numbers remain around 85% lower over last year and its stores at UK airports remain largely closed.

SSP expects only around 20% of its units in the UK will have opened by autumn.

Sky News first reported the job cuts on Tuesday.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sriraj Kalluvila

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