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Pret A Manger to cut 3,000 jobs in the UK

People queue outside a Pret A Manger shop in London

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AFP

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to cut 3,000 jobs, or more than a third of its workforce, as part of a plan to save the business.

The jobs will mainly go at its shops, but 90 roles will also be lost at its support centre.

The chain has been hit as demand from commuters and office workers – a key market – has plunged in the pandemic.

It had already said it would permanently close 30 of its stores earlier this summer.

Boss Pano Christou said he was “gutted” 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.

“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.”

Like other retailers, Pret was forced to close for several months during lockdown, but while restrictions have eased, its trading has remained subdued.

It 367 UK stores are now open for significantly fewer hours than they were before the pandemic, and the firm has asked staff to reduce their hours.

‘Recovery under way’

The chain said its weekly sales were around £5.2m in August – about the level they were in August 2010, when the business was considerably smaller.

However, it said a recovery was “clearly under way”, with sales having grown by 7% each week since July.

The firm had warned it would cut 1,000 jobs back in June, but that number has risen after it finalised a restructuring deal this week.

It is the latest hospitality company to announce cuts due to the impact of the pandemic.

Upper Crust-owner SSP Group has said it will cut up to 5,000 jobs, as it struggles with the reduction in passenger travel at railway stations and airports.

Pizza Express, Byron Burger and Frankie & Benny’s owner, the Restaurant Group, have also announced large-scale store closures and job cuts.

About 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April and 1.4 million workers were furloughed – the highest proportions of any sector – according to government data.

Industry body UK Hospitality says around a third of restaurants and bars have still not reopened despite the easing of lockdown, as people remain nervous about the spread of the virus.

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