Following the news that Thorntons Chocolate would be closing all stores just yesterday, it seems that there has been more bad news for the high street. The popular bakery chain, Greggs, has announced the permanent closure of 56 stores – after it reported its first loss in 40 years due to COVID-19.
The store announced a pre-tax loss of £13.7 million in 2020, compared to £108.3 million in profit the previous year. Sales dropped dramatically from £1.17 billion for the Newcastle brand to £811.3 million over the past year, as a result of ongoing store closures.
The last time Greggs reported a loss was when they first became a public company on the London Stock Exchange in 1984. Speaking to The Sun, a spokesperson said that the store closures are a part of ongoing estate maintenance and happen every year.
The company said it aims to relocate staff wherever possible to new shops, and didn’t confirm how many staff would lose their jobs. The chain warned that this year may be the toughest it’s ever had, but remains positive for the future. It is currently not confirmed which stores are affected.
The store closures were offset by 84 new branch openings in 2020. Some stores have remained open for takeaways available through Just-Eat, but city centre locations especially have seen substantial falls due to lockdown.
The Daily Mirror reports that Roger Whiteside Greggs chief executive, said: “Greggs has made a better-than-expected start to 2021 given the extent of lockdown conditions and is well placed to participate in the recovery from the pandemic.
“It has a clear strategy to extend its digital capabilities and to grow further in new locations, channels and dayparts. These opportunities will benefit all of its stakeholders in the years to come.
“In a year like no other I believe that the Covid crisis has in many ways demonstrated the strength of Greggs.
“It has shown the resilience of our business model, but most of all the strength of our people who have worked hard throughout to maintain an essential service providing takeaway food to customers unable to work from home, many of whom were themselves key workers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our people, who can be proud of the part we played in our nation’s time of need.”