Pret A Manger to cut 1,000 jobs and close 30 restaurants as it reels from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Pret A Manger is closing 30 UK locations and said it could cut more than 1,000 jobs. 
  • Its owner, investment group JAB Holdings, said the company has faced "significant operating losses" in the past few months. 
  • "We cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic," CEO Pano Christou said in a statement.
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British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger said on Monday it will not reopen 30 UK shops after the coronavirus lockdown, and could cut 1,000 jobs.

The group said it has faced "significant operating losses" following the outbreak of the pandemic. Sales across its UK shops, which make up the bulk of its portfolio, were down 74% year-on-year.

It said its UK shops had recovered slower than its stores in other countries. Pret, owned by investment group JAB Holdings, runs about 550 shops worldwide and employs 13,000 people. The UK accounts for 440 of those stores — 339 of which have reopened — and 8,000 staff.

It will launch a consultation with staff this week, and will not decide on job losses until the consultation is complete, it said.

The 30 shops that will not reopen employ 330 people. 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 about changing its leasehold model.

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

"Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways."

In recent weeks, Pret has partnered with Amazon to deliver coffee, added delivery options to Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, and launched both Click & Collect and evening menu trials.

The coronavirus crisis is devastating UK hospitality jobs. Last week the owner of Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza said it may cut up to 5,000 jobs in Britain.

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