Around 1,650 Costa Coffee baristas are facing redundancy after the cafe chain said it did not know when trading might return to pre-coronavirus levels.
The cuts are equal to more than 10pc of its workforce and make Costa the latest UK hospitality business to slash jobs in the wake of lockdown.
The Coca-Cola-owned company was forced to close almost all of its 2,700 UK stores for six weeks during the pandemic, but began the process of reopening sites in May. At present, it has more than 2,400 stores trading.
During the time that shops were closed, staff were moved onto the Government’s furlough scheme, which was topped up by Costa for 12 weeks so that employees received their full pay.
But while the business was boosted by Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme since reopening, it warned there were still “high levels of uncertainty” as to when sales would recover to what they had been before the lockdown.
Despite freezing all pay increases within its head office and cutting non-essential expenditure, the chain said it needed to take “additional action” to shore up its future. This has meant reviewing in-store roles, it said.
The company will try to find those at risk alternative jobs in the business if possible.
Neil Lake, managing director for Costa Coffee UK and Ireland, said: “Today’s announcement to our store teams was an extremely difficult decision to make. Our baristas are the heart of the Costa business and I am truly sorry that many now face uncertainty following today’s news.
“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.”
Last week, Pret a Manger announced plans to cut 2,800 jobs after 10 years of growth were wiped out by a Covid sales crash.
The redundancies - equal to more than a third of Pret's workforce - came after the sandwich and coffee chain said last month that it was planning to shut 30 shops in a major shake-up.