UK Sandwich Chain Pret A Manger to Cut 2,800 Jobs Due to Pandemic

August 27, 2020 Updated: August 27, 2020

British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger announced on Thursday it will axe 2,800 jobs, nearly a third of its UK workforce, as a result of the impact of the CCP virus pandemic.

Trade across its UK shops has fallen 60 percent year on year, despite significant improvement during August, Pret said in a statement.

Following its decision in July to close 30 of its UK shops permanently, Pret said it has now been “forced to take the difficult decision to reduce the number of roles in its UK shops by 2,800.”

screens Pret a Manger london
Protective screens are seen at a Pret A Manger store in Canary Wharf, London, on May 27, 2020. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

The company attributed the cuts to shorter opening hours, lower transaction levels, and the expected losses it will suffer in 2020.

A further 1,000 roles could have been lost had it not been for the willingness of thousands of Pret employees to move to a lower level of minimum weekly hours, the company said.

Following the cuts, Pret still has 367 shops left in the UK employing 6,000 people, as well as a further 130 shops internationally.

Pret A Manger
A bag is passed to a customer at Pret A Manger in New Cavendish Street, in London, on June 1, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

“I’m gutted that we’ve had to lose so many colleagues,” Pret’s CEO Pano Christou said. “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 UK hospitality sector, which employs 1.8 million people, has been hit hard by the lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Around 80 percent of UK hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million workers furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the highest of any sector.

Earlier this month, restaurant group PizzaExpress announced plans to shut nearly 15 percent of its UK restaurants and cut 1,100 jobs.

PizzaExpress lockdown jobs
A person is seen walking past an empty Pizza Express restaurant in London on March 17, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

To help struggling restaurants to get back on their feet, the UK government launched a scheme called “Eat Out to Help Out” on Aug. 3.

Under the scheme, up to 10 pounds ($13) of a customer’s restaurant bill will be paid by the government if you eat out on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday at participating venues throughout August.

During the first three weeks of August, UK restaurants claimed for more than 64 million discounted meals, the government said on Tuesday.

Lily Zhou contributed to this report.