The coffee chain said there were “high levels of uncertainty” about when trade would return to pre-pandemic levels.
Costa Coffee has announced a shake-up putting up to 1,650 jobs at risk as it struggles to recover after the lockdown.
The company said it planned to axe the role of assistant store manager across its UK business.
“The ongoing impact of COVID-19 remains challenging for Costa Coffee and has required the business to make difficult decisions to ensure that as many jobs as possible are protected long-term,” Costa said in a statement.
Costa said its coffee shops had been reopening “as safely and as quickly as possible” since May with 2,400 now trading, after nearly all of its 2,700 sites had been closed for six weeks.
The company said custom had been returning, helped by the government’s VAT cut and the Eat Out To Help Out scheme but that there remained “high levels of uncertainty as to when trade will recover to pre-COVID levels”.
It comes after sandwich chain Pret A Manger last week said it was cutting 2,800 jobs.
costThe coffee chain’s announcement comes as new figures show the level of empty shops across the country is at the highest level since 2014.
Costa said that it had been providing financial support to team members throughout the pandemic including topping up government furlough subsidies worth 80% of salaries to 100%.
It said it had reviewed “a number of options” before deciding on its plan to cut jobs.
The company said it had invested significantly in accelerating store reopenings while ensuring they were safe, frozen pay increases at its support centre and cut all non-essential spending.
“Unfortunately, despite making these changes, Costa must take additional action, including announcing today’s consultation, which puts 1,650 roles at risk of redundancy,” it said.
Costa said it would seek to find alternative roles where possible for those affected and give support to others as they look for new jobs.
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Neil Lake, managing director of Costa Coffee UK and Ireland, said: “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, whilst emerging stronger ready for future growth.”
Costa employs 16,000 people at its 1,600 wholly-owned stores.
There are also 1,100 franchise outlets across the country employing 10,500 people and another 1,200 overseas.
Founded in 1971, Costa was owned by leisure group Whitbread for more than two decades before being sold to US beverage giant Coca-Cola in a £3.9bn deal completed in 2019.