Greggs confirms 56 stores now permanently closed as lockdown hammers profits

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Greggs has confirmed that 56 of its stores are now permanently shut after the company recorded its first profits loss in 36 years.

The food chain today announced pre-tax losses of £13.7million for last year due to coronaviruslockdown restrictions.

The company made a £108.3m profit in 2019.

Revenue has plummeted from £1.17billion to just £811.3m since branches were forced to shut for most of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Only takeaway sites and delivery services, which make up just 9.6% of sales, have remained open.

It is the first time Greggs, which has more than 2,000 UK branches, has reported a drop in profits since listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1984.

It is thought the closures won't lead to further job losses after Greggs previously announced 820 redundancies in January. Current staff are expected to be moved to other stores.

Announcing today's losses in a statement, Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside 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.

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"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."

The firm opened a further 84 new outlets in 2020 and still plans to launch 100 new stores each year.

Between the start of the year and March 13, sales were slashed by 28.8%, compared to the same period in 2020.

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