Pret A Manger will cut a third of its UK workforce after 74% sales slump

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  • Pret a Manger said it will cut around 2,800 jobs in its UK stores after weekly sales dropped to 2010 levels – when the chain had half as many branches.
  • The UK coffee and sandwich chain relies heavily on trade from commuters, who are now largely working from home.
  • Pret had already announced the permanent closure of 30 stores.
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Sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger will cut more than a third of its UK workforce following a coronavirus sales slump.

The chain will cut around 2,800 jobs in stores, and around 90 support staff. This is a rise from the 1,000 jobs it said in July that it would cut.

Pret’s stores have reopened as COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but the UK-based coffee chain, which employs around 8,000 people in the UK and a further 5,000 in other countries, has been hit hard by the pandemic. It is a favourite among commuters and most of its stores are located near offices – now, its usual customers are working from home, and sales have tanked.

The chain reported weekly UK sales of around £5.2 million ($US6.9 million) in August – similar to its earnings in August 2010, when it had half as many UK stores.

Pret had previously announced that 30 of its 440 UK stores would close by 2021 after its March to late June sales fell by 74% compared to 2019. It has reduced opening hours for other stores and cut staff hours by 20% in some locations.

Pano Christou, chief executive, said he is “gutted” to lose so many colleagues, but that the chain was starting to see a “steady but slow recovery.”

Representative body UK Hospitality told the BBC that around a third of the country’s restaurants and bars remain closed, despite the government subsidizing eat-in meals at eligible restaurants and cafes, including Pret, throughout August. This “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, which gave diners 50% off, will end in September.