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SSP Group to cut 5,000 UK jobs as coronavirus decimates travel footfall

Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza owner will cut around half of its UK workforce as coronavirus causes 85% reduction in travel hub footfall

Liverpool Street station in London, one of the UK capital's busiest railway hubs, lies deserted during the coronavirus lockdown



SSP Group has announced a major restructuring of its global business as coronavirus continues to severely disrupt travel hub footfall around the world. Around 5,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the UK, where SSP operates the Caffè Ritazza and Upper Crust coffee and food-to-go chains.
 
The branded café, retail and catering operator also revealed that while global sales had recovered slightly in June, revenues remained 90% down on last year. Stronger sales across Continental Europe and North America had been offset by sluggish performance in the UK and the rest of the world, the company added.
 
“We are beginning to see early signs of recovery in some parts of the world and are starting to open units as passenger demand picks up. However, in the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow,” said CEO Simon Smith.
 
“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.”
 
SSP Group operates café and catering concessions at more than 125 airports and 270 railway stations around the world, and employed around 40,000 staff before the pandemic.
 
Unlike many high street café businesses, the travel hub-based concession operator will have less effectively been able to pivot towards other sales channels, such as delivery, click & collect and retail coffee, to boost revenues during the pandemic.
 
The majority of SSP’s UK operations are based railway stations, where footfall is down 85% on last year, and airports, where passengers have been virtually non-existent. 
 
Commenting on the on-going challenges hospitality businesses face as lockdown restrictions are eased, Allegra Group CEO and Founder, Jeffrey Young, said UK coffee shops still faced tough times ahead.
 
“The high risk of a Covid-19 second wave, as well fundamental structural and technological changes to workplace and high street footfall, plus many job losses impacting consumer confidence and purchasing power, provide ominous signs ahead for the entire UK hospitality sector for the next 12 months and potentially well beyond.”

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