By Bill Heaney
Warm sausage roll and a Belgian bun anyone? That’s what I had for my lunch nearly every day when I worked through lunchtime at my former office in High Street, Dumbarton.
There will be a lot of people like me who will be welcoming the news that Greggs has announced plans to reopen 800 stores to customers for takeaways from Thursday with the aim of welcoming sausage roll seekers to the remaining 1000 sites by early July.
The shops will have floor markings, protective clothes for staff and screens at counters among several measures to prevent coronavirus spreading.
There will also be a reduced menu to ensure social distancing in kitchens and workspaces.
Among those reopening in Scotland are a number in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as outlets in Airdrie, Barrhead, Bathgate, Clydebank, Cumbernauld, Falkirk, Motherwell and Paisley.
There is so far no mention of their Dumbarton shops in the High Street and St James Retail Park, Main Street, Alexandria, or Sinclair Street, Helensburgh.
Greggs have warned sales are likely to remain subdued as the 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 company 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 but declined, saying it felt remaining open would compromise the safety of its employees.ADVERT
Updating the stock market on Tuesday morning, the company added it remains cautious and warned sales may fall.
It said: “We are not able to predict the impact of social distancing on our ability to trade or on customer demand.
“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 company 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.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “Looking forward, although great uncertainty remains, we are excited to be resuming our service for many customers this week.