Britain’s Pret A Manger to close 30 UK shops, could cut over 1,000 jobs

A bag is passed to a customer at Pret a Manger in New Cavendish Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, London, Britain, June 1, 2020. — Reuters pic
A bag is passed to a customer at Pret a Manger in New Cavendish Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, London, Britain, June 1, 2020. — Reuters pic

LONDON, July 6 — British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger said today it will not reopen 30 UK shops after the coronavirus lockdown and could cut around 1,000 jobs, reflecting a major hit to customer demand from the crisis.

Pret, owned by investment group JAB Holdings, runs about 550 shops across 10 markets. In the UK it has 410 shops, 339 of which have reopened. Out of a global workforce of 13,000, some 8,000 are employed in the UK.

The group said it has faced “significant operating losses” following the outbreak of the pandemic, with sales across UK shops down 74 per cent year-on-year.

It said it was experiencing a much slower recovery in the UK compared to the other countries in which it trades.

A consultation with shop teams and support staff will start this week, and no final decisions will be made until the consultation is complete.

The 30 shops that will not reopen employ 330. Chief Executive Pano Christou said in an interview with the Financial Times that job losses “could be 1,000 plus”.

Pret also plans to sell the lease of its main support office in central London and is in talks with landlords across its estate over a more sustainable leasehold model.

“We cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic,” said Christou in a statement.

“Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways,” he said.

In recent weeks, Pret has launched a retail coffee offering with Amazon, added delivery options in partnership with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, and launched Click & Collect and evening dinner menu trials.

The crisis is having a devastating impact on UK hospitality jobs.

Last week the owner of Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza said it may cut up to 5,000 jobs in Britain. — Reuters

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