Sunday 31 May 2020 12:37 pm

Pret a Manger set for crucial rent talks with landlords

Fast food chain Pret a Manger is preparing for rent talks with its landlords in a bid to stave off closing some stores due to the coronavirus crisis.

The chain, a favourite of office workers around the UK, is preparing for a shift in footfall in city centres as working patterns shift due to the disease.

Read more: All McDonald’s drive-thru restaurants to reopen next week

As of Monday, over 300 of the chain’s stores will be open, with a further 130 still closed for the time being.

Sky News reported that Pret had appointed property agent CWM and professional services firm Alvarez and Marsal to negotiate a new rent package for the firm.

The chain is reportedly seeking to switch to a “turnover rent” model, which links payments to the turnover achieved at each site.

Chief executive Pano Christou said that Pret was compiling a “clear plan” to deal with its new reality:

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“Reduced footfall, combined with high rental costs, have placed substantial pressure on our business,” he said.

The move comes after the firm took steps to secure an additional $100m loan from its creditors last month to see it through the crisis.

Earlier this month industry body Hospitality UK wrote to business secretary Alok Sharma urging the government to take action on rents to protect millions of jobs in the sector.

In the letter, body head Kate Nicholls said that despite the moratorium on rent enforcement action, many tenants were still being pursued by landlords despite widespread closures.

Read more: Nando’s reopens 94 UK restaurants for takeaway and delivery

She called for a national “time out” on rent, saying that most businesses “simply would not be able to pay rents for the rest of the year”:

“The government must step in quickly to help hospitality businesses, landlords and investors find a mutually beneficial solution”, she added.