Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has confirmed that it has asked thousands of staff to work fewer hours, as part of a post-pandemic restructuring.
Despite the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, trading continues to be slow as many office workers are still at home.
Staff in stores have been asked to work about 20% fewer hours than before.
A Pret spokeswoman said: «Our biggest priority is to do everything we can to save jobs.
«With footfall in our shops still significantly below normal levels, we have had to review the hours team members are contracted to work each week – although of course we hope to increase these hours as trade improves.
«By making these changes we are able to save a large number of roles.»
Pret is reliant on sales from commuters and office workers at lunchtime, which have been significantly impacted by the lockdown.
The firm runs 550 outlets globally, employing 13,000 staff, including 8,000 people in the UK.
A majority of Pret stores are now open for significantly fewer hours than they were prior to the pandemic.
Trade across the country is understood to be down by 65% since the lockdown came into force in late March. In the City of London, business has fallen by 80%.
In July, Pret announced that it would be closing 30 outlets and cutting about 1,000 jobs across its business as part of a post-pandemic restructuring.
Pret said 339 of its 410 UK shops have so far reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Consultations are currently ongoing between the firm and the affected employees working at the 30 shops that will not reopen.
Pret is also in talks with landlords about reducing its rent bill. In May, it appointed advisory firms to help restructure the business, and in April it raised €100m (£90m) in emergency funding from its banks.
In a televised address, Lebanese PM Hassan Diab said he would ask for early elections as a way out of the crisis. The issue will be discussed in cabinet on Monday.
Lebanon was already mired in a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic before the explosion tore through Beirut.
An anti-government protest movement erupted last October, fuelled by the financial situation and a collapsing currency.
What’s happening on Sunday?
French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, and announced he wanted to coordinate international aid for the country.
A statement from France’s presidential palace says Sunday’s conference «will aim to mobilize Lebanon’s main international partners and to organize and coordinate emergency support from the international community».
Representatives from European Union member states, China, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and the UK will all take part, with many others invited to attend.
In a series of tweets, President Trump said he had discussed the «catastrophic event» in Beirut with Mr Macron and would himself join the call.
«Everyone wants to help!» he wrote.
A number of countries have already pledged millions of dollars worth of aid and sent ships, health workers and materiel to assist Beirut.
But UN agencies have called for more help and warned about the massive challenge ahead. Many homes are without water or electricity, there are growing worries about food shortages, and cases of Covid-19 are spiking in the country – an additional challenge for hospitals which are already overwhelmed.
«The needs are immediate and they are huge,» Unicef spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
What happened at the protests?
The aid conference comes amid ongoing fury about the government’s failure to stop the blast.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people gathered for demonstrations on Saturday, to show that rage and also to remember those victims of the explosion.
As the protests got under way, mock gallows were erected in Martyrs’ Square to indicate the demonstrators’ view of the country’s political leaders.
Skirmishes began early on, with police responding to rocks and sticks thrown by protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Police confirmed to Reuters news agency that live ammunition had been fired in central Beirut, though it is not clear by whom.
One officer died after falling into a lift-shaft in a hotel, reportedly after being chased there by protesters.
The local Red Cross said it treated 117 injured people at the scene. Another 55 were taken to hospital.
Dozens of protesters stormed government ministries and the headquarters of the country’s banking association.
The raids started after a group of people chanting anti-government slogans and burning a portrait of President Michel Aoun entered the foreign ministry and called for all ministries to be occupied.
Reports suggest security forces have since retaken the buildings from the demonstrators.
But some small-scale fishermen said their «saviour» was starting to sell direct to households via social media.
Some businesses also started using sheds and garages to process their catches after lockdown restrictions were introduced.
Cornwall Rural Community Charity (CRCC) said it helped 25 businesses to secure grants to diversify.
Sam Chapman, a shellfish wholesaler in Looe, Cornwall, would normally sell to restaurants. But they closed suddenly and he recalled a «terrifying time» of sleepless nights at the start of lockdown with a three week-old baby to support.
«About 80% of my customers shut their doors overnight… I was just about to do the same, until one of my friends asked me for £30 of mixed fish,» he said.
«I then advertised this on our Facebook page and we never looked back.»
Mr Chapman has continued delivering boxes alongside his wholesale accounts.
Austin Long, 37, and his father Stephen, lifelong Falmouth fishermen, said they also began selling on Facebook for the first time.
«A boat our size normally has to land all our catch to a wholesale agent,» Mr Long said. «We started to push direct sales and got a grant which let us buy all the equipment to furnish a processing unit.»
He said he initially set up the fish processing plant in his garage but was now awaiting a new shed that would be more suitable.
Mr Long said business had been booming as more people found they could get affordable fresh local fish, which was «a positive for all those communities».
Sophie Horton has a fishing lock-up on the seafront in Salcombe, Devon, where she sells fish, crabs and lobsters bought from local trawlers.
She also turned to delivering direct, securing more than £3,000 from the schemes to pay for equipment and advertising.
«It has put me a in a stronger position than before – it has been so busy we cannot catch enough lobsters,» she said.
«People who didn’t buy local before do now – so a real silver lining.»
Poppy Mills, from the CRCC, said many people lacked either the confidence, skills or time it could take to apply for money.
The head of the Tate art galleries has defended plans to cut around 200 jobs in their shops and cafes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
«Sadly at the moment the trading business is too big,» Maria Balshaw told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Host Lauren Laverne asked her about the «question mark over 200 jobs at Tate Enterprises», given «no redundancies have been announced at the galleries».
Balshaw said the company had delayed the job losses «for as long as we can».
But fewer staff will be needed in the commercial arm because visitor numbers are expected to stay at around 50% for «quite a long time», she said.
She told the programme: «We are consulting with staff about redundancies. But we have used as much of our own reserves as we can to preserve the jobs throughout this period.
«So staff were kept on 100% pay all the way through lockdown, and we’ve delayed this period of consultation for as long as we can.
«We don’t want to lose any staff, but we know we have to, otherwise the business won’t be able to trade.»
There were protests outside Tate Modern when it, and the other Tate galleries, reopened on 27 July, having been closed due to coronavirus since 17 March.
Balshaw also oversees Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. Tate Enterprises Ltd is the commercial subsidiary, which operates retail, publishing and catering within the galleries.
A number of MPs have raised concerns about the cuts, saying those affected were «low paid with a significant number at risk coming from the BAME community». On Desert Island Discs, Laverne said the union representing those affected wants Tate to intervene.
Balshaw replied: «We have intervened. We’re almost unique in that we run all our own shops and cafes, and that means that everything that people experience at Tate reflects our values.
«But that means, when we are facing 50% fewer visitors coming to our galleries for probably quite a long time, that sadly at the moment the trading business is too big, because we won’t be able to open all the cafes and the shops in the same way.»
She pledged that «as visitors do return and as we get properly post-Covid, they [the affected workers] will be given the first option to come back and work for us because we recognise the hard work that they do and how valuable they are to us».
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 BST on Sunday, then on BBC Sounds.
The number of firms planning 20 or more redundancies by June rose more than fivefold compared to June last year, figures obtained by the BBC show.
Data shared in response to a Freedom of Information request shows 1,778 firms notified the government of plans to cut more than 139,000 jobs in June in England, Wales and Scotland.
In June 2019, only 345 firms notified plans to cut 24,000 jobs.
The cuts came as coronavirus wiped more than a quarter off UK economic output.
The figures give an insight into the surge of redundancies announced since Coronavirus blighted the UK.
Airbus, Royal Mail, the airport services group Swissport, HSBC, Centrica and the Restaurant Group, owner of Frankie and Benny’s, were among the businesses to announce redundancy plans in June.
Firms planning to make 20 or more staff redundant have to notify the government by filing a form called an HR1 Advance Notice of Redundancy.
The number of these forms filed with the Insolvency Service shows a steep rise in the number of firms planning to cut staff.
Employers planning 20 or more redundancies
HR1 forms submitted
The figures from May and June show a substantial increase from the same months the previous year, and from March and April, when the coronavirus lockdown began.
Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: «I would expect it to be bigger in July and bigger again in August, because there was a wave of firms that announced redundancies in the first week of July and the first week of August.
«I think it is inevitable now that redundancy numbers will be higher than they were at the peak of the last recession in 2008.»
Adding up the total number of dismissals planned shows a similar picture of stricken employers cutting staff.
Proposed dismissals submitted
Though the June figure excludes information from 79 firms, which was not available when the numbers were compiled, it shows a steep rise in the number of positions being considered for redundancy.
The total number of employers making redundancies will be higher than these figures, as firms making fewer than 20 posts redundant at any one «establishment» do not have to notify government.
However, employers often end up making fewer redundancies than the original number they notify to the government.
The redundancy process takes time. It includes a consultation period of a minimum of 30 days for 20 staff and over, and 45 days for 100 or more staff.
This helps to explain why official redundancy figures gathered by the Office for National Statistics do not yet show a significant rise.
In Northern Ireland HR1 forms are filed with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and they are not included in these figures.
In response to the BBC’s findings the Department for Work and Pensions pointed to the measures it has introduced to try to support those looking for work.
«Across the country our Plan for Jobs will give business the confidence to recruit and retain workers… and – through the Kickstart scheme – create hundreds of thousands of new, subsidised jobs for young people,» a spokesperson said.
Emergency coronavirus funding for firms will go back to the Treasury at the end of the month if it is not claimed, business leaders have said.
Four months after £12bn was released to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, £1.5bn is unclaimed.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned the money was sitting in councils’ bank accounts.
The government said it was working with councils to reach eligible businesses.
Emergency grants for businesses in England were announced on 17 March.
Lump sums of £10,000, through the Small Business Grant Fund, and £25,000 through the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, were intended to help businesses’ cash flows during the coronavirus pandemic.
As of 3 August, £10.8bn had been paid out to nearly 900,000 businesses, leaving £1.5bn yet to reach nearly 80,000 eligible firms by late August, according to official data.
The figures suggest more than one in five businesses in areas such as Wealden, South Lakeland and South Somerset have not claimed grants.
Of the 314 English councils distributing the money, 291 have at least one business entitled to support that has not received it.
The figures also suggest there are 24 authorities that paid out more than they were allocated. Westminster City Council paid £17m more than it was allocated.
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, urged firms to apply for the grant funding, but added it should not be returned to the government if it was not claimed by the deadline.
«There are many small businesses who aren’t eligible, so the government should widen the criteria to those on the periphery,» he said.
He added the money would be a «Godsend» for businesses left out by the «restrictive criteria» for the grant, such as firms in supply chains to other small ventures.
‘Sitting in the council’s bank’
Wirral Council held £14.7m of unspent funding as of the end of July.
Councillor Ian Lewis said: «From my discussions with business owners and shopkeepers in Wallasey, some do not realise that this is a grant, not a loan, so it doesn’t have to be repaid. Even businesses that were able to stay open are eligible.
«It would be tragic if businesses close or jobs are lost because they do not apply for this money – it’s literally sitting in the council’s bank waiting to be claimed.»
Who is eligible?
Businesses can apply for one of the following funds:
For the small businesses grant they must be based in England, occupy property for business use and have been eligible for relief on various rates by 11 March 2020.
To access the retail, hospitality and leisure grant the business must be mainly used as a venue for hospitality, retail or leisure. Some charities can also apply.
Brent Council in London said it was telling businesses in «any way we can» about the grants, as the borough did not want to hand back any of its £4.5m remaining funds to the government.
Councillor Shama Tatler said it was «a surprise» the government was looking to «end the schemes and demand the money back», before all eligible businesses had been contacted.
«We now even have a team of officers physically knocking on people’s doors and urging them to claim before the deadline,» she said.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: «We are working with local councils to ensure funds get to as many eligible small business owners as possible.
«Businesses that are eligible but have not yet received grant funding should speak to their local council as soon as possible.»
Additional reporting by: Anna Khoo and the Local Democracy Reporting Service