Pret A Manger cuts 2,800 jobs as 30 stores close

Pret a Manger has axed 2,800 roles from its shops after completing a restructuring of its UK business.

The high street stalwart is struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic and has already cut workers and closed stores.

Last month it revealed plans to permanently shut 30 shops across the country, before announcing a 20% reduction in staff working hours.

Alongside the job cuts in shops, a further 90 roles have been cut in Pret’s support centre teams.

The sandwich chain said that although there have been “clear signs of recovery” in footfall since the lockdown was eased, trade across its shops is still around 60% down year-on-year.

Announcing the job losses on Thursday, executive officer Pano Christou said: “I’m gutted that we’ve had 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.”

The reduction in roles is a reflection of shorter opening hours, lower transaction levels, and the losses faced by the business in 2020, the firm said in a statement.

“Significantly, a further 1,000 roles have been preserved thanks to the support of thousands of Pret Team Members to move to a lower level of minimum weekly hours,” it added.

“These hours will be continuously reviewed to reflect levels of sales and footfall during the remainder of 2020 and early 2021.”

Pret stressed that despite the reduction in trade, its UK team is still much larger than it was 10 years ago.

“Since the end of July, weekly sales have grown on average by around 7%, and the company is confident it can continue to build on this growth,” it added.

Mr Christou added: “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.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to review all these changes now that trade is improving again, and I’m encouraged by the improvements we’re seeing every week.

“We’ll soon be announcing a number of big changes to help bring Pret to more people.

“We’re grateful to the Government for the support they’ve given our sector, and hope that support will continue as long as possible to give Pret time to adjust.”

The company’s strategy before the Covid-19 outbreak was to have as many sandwich shops in and around offices.

However, many workers remain at home despite lockdown restrictions being lifted, leaving city centres at risk of becoming “ghost towns”.

UK workers have been the slowest in Europe to return to the office. France, Germany, Italy and Spain have largely returned to normal working practises.

Trade across the country is understood to be down by 65% since the lockdown came into force in late March.

In the City of London, business has fallen by 80%.