Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to close 30 branches and could cut around 1,000 jobs after a significant drop in footfall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
As well as the staff it employs at the affected branches, jobs will also be lost at its other outlets, of which it currently has 410, to allow for social distancing. Support teams will also be restructured.
The firm employs around 13,000 people in total, 8,000 of which are in the UK.
“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,” said Pret chief executive Pano Christou. “Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways, enabling us to grown once more in the medium term.”
Pret said its recovery from the coronavirus crisis had been much slower in the UK than in the other countries it operates. Sales were around 74% lower than the same time last year.
It has become the latest high street business to signal that it is in difficulty because of the pandemic and follows a wave of redundancies announced across the casual dining and retail sectors last week.
Casual Dining Group, which owns brands including Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, made 1,900 staff redundant when it went into administration last week, while thousands of redundancies are expected to be made across TM Lewin, Harrods, Upper Crust owner SSP Group and furniture retailer Harveys.
Yesterday, the TUC and unions Usdaw, Unite, GMB and Unison, called on the government to take bold action to save jobs by extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond October and to invest in green infrastructure projects.
The joint statement, published ahead of the chancellor’s announcement about the government’s economic recovery plans, said: “Without bold action from the government next week, we face the very real prospect of mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s. Our message to the chancellor is simple and stark – we have a very short window to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“The job retention scheme – called for by unions – has shown what active government can do during a crisis. It rescued companies and saved millions from the dole queue. Now is the time to build on that spirit, not shrink away from the challenges ahead.”