Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza owner to cut 5,000 UK jobs

Travel decline hits SSP Group’s outlets based at railway stations and airports

Upper Crust baguettes on display at an outlet at a railway station

The Upper Crust owner, SSP Group, says it will increase operations and reopen additional sites if sales improve over the summer.
Photograph: Newscast/Alamy

The owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza is to axe 5,000 UK jobs after suffering heavy losses during the coronavirus crisis lockdown.

SSP Group said the cuts, which represent about half of its 9,000-strong workforce in Britain, are part of a sweeping restructuring aimed at keeping the catering company afloat. The job 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 at railway stations and airports. SSP, which operates in 35 countries, closed almost all of its UK outlets closed during the lockdown.

SSP Group’s chief executive, Simon Smith, said Covid-19 was 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.


Major UK job cuts announced so far

The coronavirus lockdown has prompted some of the UK’s most prominent companies to announce large-scale job losses. The aviation, automotive and retail sectors have been among the worst hit, as businesses adjust to dramatically reduced revenue projections.

While the government’s job retention scheme has so far protected millions of jobs, fears are mounting that unemployment will rise as the scheme begins to be phased out from August.

Since lockdown began on 23 March, some of the UK’s largest companies have announced plans to cut a total of 60,000 jobs globally, many of which will fall in the UK.

Rolls-Royce – 9,000 jobs
The jet-engine manufacturer has confirmed that 3,000 job cuts, of a planned 9,000 worldwide, will be made in the UK. In May Rolls-Royce said it would make the first round of redundancies through a voluntary programme, with about 1,500 posts being lost at its headquarters in Derby, as well as 700 redundancies in Inchinnan, near Glasgow, another 200 at its Barnoldswick site in Lancashire, and 175 in Solihull, Warwickshire.

BP- 10,000 jobs
The oil company said in June it plans to make 10,000 people redundant worldwide, including an estimated 2,000 in the UK, by the end of the year. The BP chief executive, Bernard Looney, said that the majority of people affected would be those in office-based jobs, including at the most senior levels. BP said it would reduce the number of group leaders by a third, and protect the “frontline” of the company, in its operations.

Centrica- 5,000 jobs
The owner of British Gas announced in June that it intends to cut 5,000 jobs, mostly senior roles, and remove three layers of management, in a bid to simplify the structure of its business. The energy firm has a total workforce of 27,000, of whom 20,000 are in the UK.

Bentley- 1,000 jobs
The luxury carmaker intends to shrink its workforce by almost a quarter, slashing 1,000 roles through a voluntary redundancy scheme. The majority of Bentley’s 4,200 workers are based in Crewe in Cheshire.

Aston Martin Lagonda – 500 jobs
The Warwickshire-based luxury car manufacturer has announced 500 redundancies.

British Airways – 12,000 jobs
The UK flag carrier is holding consultations to make up to 12,000 of its staff redundant, a reduction of one in four jobs at the airline. BA intends to cut roles among its cabin crew, pilots and ground staff, while significantly reducing its operations at Gatwick airport.

Virgin Atlantic – 3,000-plus jobs
Richard Branson’s airline is to cut more than 3,000 jobs, more than a third of its workforce, and will shut its operations at Gatwick.

EasyJet – 4,500 jobs
The airline has announced plans to cut 4,500 employees, or 30% of its workforce.

Ryanair – 3,000 jobs
The Irish airline intends to slash 3,000 roles and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth.

Aer Lingus – 900 jobs
The Irish airline, part of International Airlines Group (IAG) plans to cut 900 jobs.

P&O Ferries – 1,100 jobs
The shipping firm intends to cut more than a quarter of its workforce, a loss of 1,100 jobs. The company, which operates passenger ferries between Dover and Calais, and across the Irish Sea, as well as Hull to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge, will initially offer employees voluntary redundancy.

JCB – 950 jobs
Digger maker JCB said in May up to 950 jobs are at risk after demand for its machines halved due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Ovo Energy – 2,600 jobs
Britain’s second biggest energy supplier announced in May it planned to cut 2,600 jobs and close offices after the lockdown saw more of its customer service move online.

Johnson Matthey – 2,500 jobs
The chemicals company said in June it is planning to make 2,500 redundancies worldwide over the next three years. The move will affect 17% of the workforce at the firm, which is a major supplier of material for catalytic converters.

Bombardier – 600 jobs
The Canadian plane maker will cut 600 jobs in Northern Ireland, as part of 2,500 redundancies announced in June.

The Restaurant Group – 1,500 jobs
The owner of Tex-Mex dining chain Chiquito, and other brands including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, said in March that most branches of Chiquito and all 11 of its Food & Fuel pubs would not reopen after the lockdown, leading to the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Monsoon Accessorize – 345 jobs
The fashion brands were bought out of administration by their founder, Peter Simon, in June, in a deal which saw 35 stores close permanently and led to the loss of 545 jobs.

Clarks – 900 jobs
Clarks plans to cut 900 office jobs worldwide as part of a wider turnaround strategy

Oasis and Warehouse – 1,800 jobs
The fashion brands were bought out of administration by restructuring firm Hilco in April, in a deal which led to the permanently closure of all of their stores and the loss of more than 1,800 jobs.

Debenhams – 4,000 jobs
At least 4,000 jobs will be lost at Debenhams as a result of restructuring, following its collapse into administration in April, for the second time in a year.

Mulberry – 470 jobs
The luxury fashion and accessories brand said in June it is to cut 25% of its global workforce and has started a consultation with the 470 staff at risk.

Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100 jobs
The car firm is to cut 1,100 contract workers at manufacturing plants the UK, potentially affecting factories at Halewood on Merseyside and Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands.

Travis Perkins – 2,500 jobs
The builders’ merchant is cutting 2,500 jobs in the UK, accounting for almost a 10th of its 30,000-strong workforce. The company, which is behind DIY retailer Wickes and Toolstation, said the job losses will affect staff in areas including distribution, administrative roles and sales. The move will also affect staff across 165 stores that are now earmarked for closure.

Swissport – 4,500 jobs
Swissport, which handles services such as passenger baggage and cargo for airlines has began a consultation process that is expected to result in 4,556 workers being made redundant, more than half of its 8,500 UK workforce.

Royal Mail – 2,000 jobs
Royal Mail has announced a cost-cutting plan that will involve slashing about 2,000 jobs. One in five of its near-10,000 management roles will go by March 2021, in areas including IT, finance, marketing and sales. The company’s 90,000 postal workers would not be affected by the cuts.

SSP Group – 5,000 jobs
The owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza is to axe 5,000 jobs, which represents about half of its workforce. 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.

Photograph: Bloomberg

“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 food and drinks company has an extensive business. Apart from its Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza brands, it operates bespoke food outlets, as well as hundreds of of Starbucks, Burger King and Jamie Oliver sites at airports and railway stations across the world.

SSP, which has put a number of workers on furlough, said it had originally planned to reopen its sites and bring staff back to work as quickly as possible once passenger demand recovered.

Sales in April and May were down 95% compared with a year earlier but even after some restrictions lifted in continental Europe and North America, June sales were 90% lower than the same month in 2019.

“The reality is that passenger numbers still remain at very low levels,” SSP said. UK rail passenger numbers are 85% lower year on year, while UK air travel has been largely non-existent, it added.

Smith said the company would be able to increase 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 expects only 20% of its UK sites to have reopened by the autumn.

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SSP Group said it had already taken action to preserve cash during the Covid-19 lockdown, including suspending its share buyback programme, slashing spending and investment, and cutting pay for for executives, board members and senior managers by about 30% until at least September.

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 posts across the UK and close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports.

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.