5,000 jobs face axe as Up­per Crust feels pain of pan­demic

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Si­mon Foy By

UP­PER Crust food and drink chain owner SSP is ax­ing up to 5,000 jobs as it rushes to re­struc­ture its busi­ness in the face of plung­ing pas­sen­ger num­bers at rail­way sta­tions and air­ports.

The FTSE 250 com­pany – which op­er­ates across 36 coun­tries and is fo­cused on trans­port hubs – said pas­sen­ger de­mand re­mained very low, with sales down about 90pc in June com­pared to a year ear­lier. Sales in April and May fell 95pc.

The job cuts will af­fect its head of­fice and UK op­er­a­tions, it said, with more than half of its Bri­tish staff at risk.

Si­mon Smith, SSP’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “In the UK the pace of the re­cov­ery con­tin­ues to be slow. In re­sponse to this, we are now tak­ing fur­ther ac­tion to pro­tect the busi­ness and cre­ate the right base from which to rebuild our op­er­a­tions.

“Re­gret­tably, we are start­ing a collective con­sul­ta­tion which will af­fect our UK col­leagues. Th­ese are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions, and our main pri­or­ity will be to con­duct the process care­fully and fairly.”

The firm said as many as 5,000 po­si­tions could be culled if the re­cov­ery fails to speed up. Be­fore the pan­demic, it had about 40,000 staff world­wide, with about 9,000 in the UK.

Air­bus and re­tailer TM Lewin also an­nounced sweep­ing job cuts this week, adding to the grim toll of virus­re­lated losses.

SSP said the reorganisa­tion was ex­pected to cost be­tween £8m and £10m.

Most of its UK busi­ness is in rail­way sta­tions, where pas­sen­ger num­bers re­main about 85pc lower than last year. Most of its air­port stores re­main closed. It ex­pects only about a fifth of its UK units to have re­opened by the au­tumn.

Shares closed down 2.3pc at 251.4p.

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