The owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza is to axe 5,000 jobs after suffering heavy losses in the coronavirus crisis lockdown.
SSP Group said the cuts, which represent about half of its workforce, are part of a wide-sweeping restructuring aimed at keeping the catering company afloat. The cuts will have an impact on staff at its head office and across its UK operations.
It follows a dramatic fall in domestic and international travel, which has hit the company’s sites based at railway stations and airports. Almost all of its UK outlets closed during the lockdown.
SSP Group’s chief executive, Simon Smith, said Covid-19 was still having an “unprecedented impact” on the business and while there were early signs of recovery in some parts of the world, the UK had been slow to bounce back.
He said the cuts would ensure the company survives the pandemic. “We are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations,” Smith said.
“We have therefore come to the very difficult conclusion that we will need to simplify and reshape our UK business, and we are now starting a collective consultation on a proposed reorganisation.”
The chief executive said the company would be able to ramp up operations and reopen additional sites if sales improved over the summer. However, even with the introduction of air bridges between countries and the start of the summer holiday season, the company only expects 20% of its UK sites to have opened by the autumn.
The news continues a grim week of job losses across the travel industry. On Tuesday the planemaker Airbus announced plans to cut as many as 15,000 jobs – including 1,700 in the UK. EasyJet said it was planning to cut up to 727 pilot jobs and up to 1,200 cabin crew jobs across the UK and close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports.
However, retailers have also taken a hit. The furniture chain Harveys and the shirt maker TM Lewin have called in administrators, resulting in the immediate loss of more than 800 jobs, with more than 1,300 others at risk.