UPDATE 1-UK's Costa Coffee may cut 1,650 jobs as virus-hit forces restructuring

Sept 3- Costa Coffee, a unit of Coca-Cola Co, said on Thursday a plan to deal with the hit to its UK stores from the COVID-19 health crisis could result in 1,650 people losing their jobs, becoming the latest British chain to warn of layoffs. The coffee chain, which employs around 16,000 people across 1,600 wholly-owned stores in the UK, said its plan includes removing…

Sept 3 (Reuters) – Costa Coffee, a unit of Coca-Cola Co

, said on Thursday a plan to deal with the hit to its UK

stores from the COVID-19 health crisis could result in 1,650

people losing their jobs, becoming the latest British chain to

warn of layoffs.

The coffee chain, which employs around 16,000 people across1,600 wholly-owned stores in the UK, said its plan includesremoving the role of assistant store manager in the UK business.

The business model of coffee shops, located mainly in towncentres and cities, has been hammered as many people still workfrom home.

Britain has been encouraging people to get back to theirplaces of work, ramping up Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s callsto revive the economy.

“While trade is returning, helped by the Government’s VATreduction, which Costa passed on to customers in full, and therecent “Eat Out To Help Out” Scheme, there remain high levels ofuncertainty as to when trade will recover to pre-COVID levels,”Costa said.

Coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger had last month saidit was cutting 2,800 jobs as part of a lockdown-inducedrestructuring, while restaurant operator PizzaExpress decided tolay off 1,100 jobs through 73 outlet closures.

Costa said it will seek alternative roles within thebusiness for those at-risk where possible and will providesupport for those leaving the business.

Founded in London by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costain 1971, Costa operates in 31 international markets, with over2,700 coffee shops in the UK and Ireland and more than 1,200shops globally.

Coca-Cola bought Costa for $5.1 billion in 2018 from PremierInn-owner Whitbread.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by ArunKoyyur)