Pandemic Sets Pret A Manger 10 Years As 2,800 Jobs Lost

Food and coffee chain Pret A Manger is to shed 2,800 jobs due to the economic downturn caused by coronavirus

The chain said the COVID-19 pandemic had caused sales to fall to levels last seen 10 years ago, and has announced that 30 Pret shops across the UK would close permanently.

In a statement on Thursday, chief executive Pano Christou said: “I’m gutted that we’ve had to lose so many colleagues.

“Although we’re now starting to see a steady but slow recovery, the pandemic has taken away almost a decade of growth at Pret.

We’ve managed to protect many jobs by making changes to the way we run our shops and the hours we ask team members to work”.

The chain said the move would be constantly reviewed to reflect footfall and sales levels during the rest of 2020 and early 2021.

Mr Christou added: “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to review all these changes now that trade is improving again, and I’m encouraged by the improvements we’re seeing every week.”

Trade across UK shops remains around 60% down year on year, with weekly sales for Pret UK averaging around £5m, the level they were at in August 2010.

The company said the reduction in staff numbers had been driven by “shorter opening hours, lower transaction levels, and the losses faced by the business in 2020”.

It also said that alongside the reductions in shops, a further 90 roles had been reduced in its support centre teams.

But Mr Christou continued: “We’ll soon be announcing a number of big changes to help bring Pret to more people.

“We’re grateful to the government for the support they’ve given our sector, and hope that support will continue as long as possible to give Pret time to adjust.”