Starbucks and Gourmet Burger Kitchen among firms waiting in the wings as cafes at both of Sunderland’s Sainsbury’s stores slated to close

Cafes at two Sainsbury’s stores in Sunderland face the axe under the latest plans announced by the retailer.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 11:33 am

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The chain’s bases in Silksworth Lane and Riverside Road, off Wessington Way, have been earmarked for an overhaul.

According to supermarket bosses, up to 200 cafes are slated to close by the Spring, leaving 2,000 jobs hanging in the balance.

However, eating options are unlikely to disappear completely, with Starbucks in line to double the number of branches.

File photo dated 5/11/2020 of a Sainsbury's supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds. Sainsbury's is creating 22,000 seasonal jobs to help it meet higher demand around Christmas. The retail group, which also owns Argos, said it will be hiring store staff, delivery drivers and logistics workers as part of its "biggest ever Christmas recruitment drive". Issue date: Friday October 1, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story CITY Sainsburys. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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“We are totally focused on improving what we can deliver for our customers and at the same time, working hard to make our business simpler,” said Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive officer (CEO).

“As we go through this period of transition, we have taken the difficult decision to close 200 of our cafes next month.

“We have spoken to all colleagues affected by these changes today and are absolutely committed to supporting them in any way we can during this uncertain time.

“Of course, we understand this is very unsettling for our colleagues, but we must keep adapting our business to make sure we are offering customers the best possible food and drink at affordable prices.”

Both Sunderland’s Sainsbury’s outlets currently offer cafe services between 8am - 4pm, Monday - Saturday, and 9.30am - 3.30pm on Sundays.

Elsewhere in the North East, Gateshead’s Team Valley store is also in line to see its cafe shut, but the supermarket at Durham’s Arnison Centre is among 67 nationwide expected to see its eatery survive the cull.

The decision to review the chain’s “eat-in, takeaway and home delivery food and drink” offers is said to have followed a trial of a new food hall format labelled the “Restaurant Hub”, in Birmingham.

This saw the addition of options such as Caffè Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Ed’s Diner and Slim Chickens, with plans to roll the model out to more stores.

A further 30 Starbucks coffee shops are also expected to open in supermarkets over the next twelve months, taking the number of branches of the American cafe chain in Sainsbury’s supermarkets to 60.

Plans are also in train to close hot food counters in 34 stores across the UK and “simplify the way it runs its bakeries” in 54 stores.

Affected staff have been told they will be prioritised for vacant roles.

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