Bakery chain Greggs is set to create 500 new retail jobs and expand its network of shops after returning to profit.
In its interim results statement covering the six months up to 3 July 2021, Greggs said that by the end of 2021 it would have opened 100 new shops – 48 have already opened earlier this year.
However, 11 shops had closed earlier this year following a year of reduced demand due to Covid-19 restrictions. It said reduced activity shops in public transport hubs and large city centres had affected the group’s overall recovery rate, but shops in suburban areas were being supported by people staying, and working, closer to home.
Its strongest-performing locations were those that could be accessed by car, Greggs said.
The company has chosen to repay all furlough money it received in the first half of this year after making a pre-tax profit of £55.5m, up from a loss of £65.2m in the first half of 2020.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “Greggs once again showed its resilience in a challenging first half, emerging from the lockdown months in a strong position and rebuilding sales as social restrictions were progressively relaxed.
“We continue to make good progress with our strategic priorities, growing the shop estate and investing in our digital capabilities to compete in all channels and dayparts of our market.”
Hiring confidence across the ecnomy has picked up significantly over the past quarter. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), employers’ confidence in their ability to hire new staff and make investment decisions rose to a net level of +33 in the three months to June – the highest level recorded by the REC’s JobsOutlook survey since it began in mid-2016.
Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC, said: “As restrictions have lifted over the past few months, we have seen employer confidence shoot upwards, and the confidence in hiring has reached a new record high. More importantly, this has translated into real-world recruitment activity, with more job adverts being posted and recruiters are working harder than ever to hire the right people for the right roles.”
However, Shoesmith said many workers were cautious about changing jobs after an unpredictable year-and-a-half.
“Businesses will have to think hard about their offer if they want to attract staff, not just in terms of pay but also benefits, working conditions and work-life balance,” she said.