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Greggs pulls back on reopening plans over crowd fears

The high street bakery chain had planned to open 20 sites in the Newcastle area from May 4 for takeaway customers.

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Greggs said it will pull back plans to open 20 stores for takeaway customers (Greggs/PA)

Greggs said it will pull back plans to open 20 stores for takeaway customers (Greggs/PA)

Greggs said it will pull back plans to open 20 stores for takeaway customers (Greggs/PA)

Greggs has pulled back on plans to reopen its first sites to the public next week over fears it could attract crowds.

Last week, the high street bakery chain told staff it planned a phased re-opening of stores, with 20 sites due to open in the Newcastle area from May 4 for takeaway and delivery as part of an initial trial.

However, it said it will run the trial “behind closed doors” due to fears customers will flock to its stores in large numbers.

A company spokeswoman said: “Due to significant interest in our 20-shop trial, and the risk that excessive numbers of customers may plan to visit Greggs, we will now initially operate these trials behind closed doors in order to effectively test our new operational safety measures.

“We will continue to review this and will invite walk-in customers into our shops only when we can be confident of doing so in the controlled manner we intended.”

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A closed outlet in Sheffield (Mike Egerton/PA)

A closed outlet in Sheffield (Mike Egerton/PA)

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A closed outlet in Sheffield (Mike Egerton/PA)

The reversal of the plan, which was first reported by the Financial Times, comes after rivals such as Pret A Manger have reopened a small number of sites for takeaway and delivery.

Meanwhile, other chains such as Burger King and KFC have reopened for delivery only.

Greggs had intended to open the 20 sites to see if it could operate effectively within the current social distancing guidelines.

Chief executive Roger Whitehouse previously said he hoped to open around 700 stores, including 150 franchise shops, with new operational measures in place from June 8.

It intended to then open all of its 2,050 stores by July 1, when the Government’s current furlough support package is due to end.

PA