Monday 6 July 2020 10:38 am

Pret A Manger to close 30 stores after lockdown, putting 1,000 jobs at risk

At least 1,000 jobs are understood to be at risk at Pret A Manger as it prepares to close 30 of its shops following a brutal lockdown.

Pret has said it has suffered “significant operating losses” during the UK-wide shutdown of non-essential shops since late March.

And while it has reopened 339 of its 410 shops across the UK, footfall remains lower and sales have sunk 74 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

At least 1,000 jobs are understood to be at risk as a result of the decision to close the shops. The stores are set to close before the end of the year.

Pret will also reduce the number of staff operating other stores, restructure support teams and sell off its main support office in London Victoria.

Pret chief executive Pano Christou said: “It’s a sad day for the whole Pret family, and I’m devastated that we will be losing so many employees. But we must make these changes to adapt to the new retail environment. Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways, enabling us to grow once more in the medium term.”

The coffee chain blamed the job cuts and store closures on the plunging sales, new safety measures and rental costs.

With the estate downsizing, Pret plans to trial different ways of serving customers.

It will consider a click and collect, new delivery partnerships, a retail coffee offering and an evening dinner service.

Pret A Manger has launched a retail coffee deal with Amazon and signed up with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats for delivery services.

Click and collect trials are underway in five London shops, with digital channel sales growing 480 per cent year over year to represent eight per cent of UK sales.

The coffee shop will also trial an evening delivery menu from seven of its stores and it will create a new hub kitchen in north London.

“We cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic,” Christou added. “That is why we have adapted our business and found new ways to reach our customers.

“While Pret may look and feel different in the short term, one thing I know is that we will come through this crisis and have a bright future if we take the right steps today.”

Meanwhile, Pret has appointed external consultants Alvarez & Marshal and CWM to review its estate of stores and renegotiate leaseholds with landlords.

Pret employs 13,000 staff, with 8,000 in the UK. It is now consulting on the 1,000 job cuts.

Less than two years ago staff received a £1,000 bonus after private equity owners Bridgepoint sold it for an undisclosed sum – thought to be up to £1.5bn – to JAB Holdings.