Pret A Manger to cut over a third of UK workforce

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People queue outside a Pret A Manger shop in LondonImage copyright

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to cut 3,000 jobs, or over a third of its workforce, as part of a plan to save the struggling business.

The jobs will mainly go across its stores, but 90 roles will also be cut at its support centre.

It follows a decision earlier this summer that 30 Pret stores across the UK would close permanently.

The firm has been hit as demand from commuters and office workers – a key market – has plunged in the pandemic.

It said trade across its 367 UK shops was down 60% year on year, although it had seen a pick-up in August.

Boss Pano Christou said he was “gutted” 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.”

Like other retailers, Pret was forced to close for several months during lockdown, but while restrictions have eased, its trading has remained subdued.

It stores are now open for significantly fewer hours than they were prior to the pandemic, and the firm has asked staff to cut their hours.

Pret had warned it would be cutting 1,000 jobs back in June, but that number has risen after it finalised a restructuring deal this week.

‘Recovery underway’

The firm said its weekly sales for August were around £5.2m, less than what they were in 2010 when the chain was considerably smaller.

However, it said its recovery was “clearly underway”, with sales having grown by 7% each week since July.

The firm is the latest hospitality company to announce cuts due to the impact of the pandemic.

Upper Crust owner SSP Group says up to 5,000 jobs could be cut across its UK outlets and head office, as it struggles with the reduction in passenger travel at railway stations and airports.

Pizza Express, Byron Burger and Frankie & Benny’s owner, the Restaurant Group, have also announced largescale store closures and job cuts.

About 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April and 1.4 million workers were furloughed – the highest proportions of any sector – according to government data.

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