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Coronavirus restrictions at Christmas would wipe out chunks of food sector, suggests broker

Working from home, meanwhile, poses another challenge for the food systems in the metropolitan centres and travel hubs

Greggs PLC -

Boris Johnson’s new measures to halt coronavirus infections might wipe out whole sections of the food and beverage sector if they impact on Christmas, according to Shore Capital.

The Prime Minister said the restrictions might be in place for six months, which would take in Christmas 2020.

Shore Capital said that had up to now it had forecast around a 20-30% reduction in food & beverage capacity as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Without Christmas trade, however, this might be far too cautious, says analyst Clive Black.

With no festive celebrations, office parties and the vast majority of food consumed at home in small groups, the UK food system faces huge upheaval, he says.

Small artisanal suppliers to the hotels and restaurants will be badly hit, with the shift underway in food & beverage channels towards the retail segment further reinforced.

Working from home, meanwhile, poses another challenge for the food systems in the metropolitan centres and travel hubs, says Black.

On the gloomy assumption that people stop going to back to offices, Black suggests fledgeling recoveries at urban food-on-the-move, food-for-now and food-to-go markets will stall.

That would represent a new hammerblow to the likes of Greggs (LON:GRG, sell at 1,119p) and Pret-a-Manger, good businesses, says Black,  that have had their world turned upside down through no fault of their own.

Winners will be the supermarkets, neighbourhood stores and online grocery channels that with a focus on process and productivity have scope to be more profitable than was the case in spring 2020.

For that reason, Shore is a buyer of Wm. Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW)  J Sainsbury (LON:SBRY, BUY at 200p) and Tesco  (LON:TSCO).

Quick facts: Greggs PLC

Price: 1370 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.39 billion

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