Bakery chains reopening shops shut by coronavirus

Bakery chains are reopening some stores after taking measures to protect staff and customers.

Birds of Derby, Waterfield’s and Bayne’s are among businesses that shut their doors when social distancing guidance was introduced by the government, but have since reopened some shops.

Many chains closed down after the Prime Minister announced on 20 March that pubs, restaurants and cafés should shut to help delay the spread of Covid-19. However, cafés are allowed to operate a takeaway or delivery service, and food businesses may continue to trade.

Birds Bakery shut its 65 stores on 25 March, but has since reopened 18 of them with a limited range of products that include essential grocery items such as milk and eggs.

“Prior to opening, all shops where assessed for social spacing and we have applied floor graphics to ensure the correct distance for customers and behind the counters for our staff,” explained Birds sales and marketing director Mike Holling.

“Customers have welcomed our decision to reopen and we are pleased to be helping in the communities providing a service to all.”

Lancashire-based Waterfield’s Bakers closed all its 34 shops on 23 March, and immediately conducted a risk assessment on the implications of the coronavirus.

On 3 April it reopened four village shops, with two members of staff in each shop, trading between 9am and 3pm. A further 13 shops reopened last week and the family business hopes to reopen the rest of its shops next week.

“However, our three precinct shops will depend on the shopping centres,” explained chairman Richard Waterfield. “Footfall in the village shops is much stronger than the town centres.”

Paul UK has reopened four of its London shops – Wimbledon, Canary Wharf, Hampstead and Marble Arch – which are selling hot drinks, bread, Viennoiserie, sweet tarts and mini macarons for takeaway or home delivery via Deliveroo and UberEats.

Scottish bakery Bayne’s the Family Bakers last week reopened 10 stores, which are operating reduced opening hours and with fewer staff while selling a limited range of essential goods, most of which are packed at the bakery. The bakery is only accepting card payments, preferably contactless, and has installed Perspex screens at tills.

Other bakery firms have adapted their operations to continue trading during the pandemic, with many launching delivery services.