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Business briefing: Costa ‘to cut 1,650 jobs as Covid crisis takes its toll’

UP TO 1,650 jobs are under threat at cafe chain Costa as it looks to cut costs amid the coronavirus crisis.

More than a tenth of roles are at risk due to ‘high levels of uncertainty as to when trade will recover to pre-Covid levels’, staff were told yesterday.

Assistant store manager positions are set to go as part of the restructure, while there will be a pay freeze at its head office in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and all non-essential expenditure stopped.

Neil Lake, managing director for Costa Coffee UK & Ireland, said: ‘Today’s announcement to our store teams was an extremely difficult decision to make. Our baristas are the heart of the business and I am truly sorry that many now face uncertainty. We have had to make these difficult decisions to protect the business and ensure we safeguard as many jobs as possible for our 16,000 team members.’

The chain, owned by Coca-Cola, said trade is ‘returning’ after being boosted by the VAT reduction on food and non- alcoholic drinks and Eat Out to Help Out.

The move comes a week after rival Pret A Manger revealed it was slashing 2,800 jobs in the UK.

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■ MORE than 100million meals were ordered during Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, helping to protect almost 2million jobs, the government said. The initiative, which ended on Monday, saved diners up to £10 a meal, with the 84,700 outlets signed up claiming £522million back. The chancellor said: ‘I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.’

■ REVOLUTION Bars saw sales nearly double thanks to Eat Out to Help Out last month. Takings went up 188.4 per cent on the days the government footed half of diners’ bills, compared with equivalent days in 2019. But overall sales fell by 27.5 per cent year-on-year. The chain has reopened two-thirds of its bars but warned that 11 will remain closed ‘until there is a further relaxation of social distancing measures’.