International sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger has announced that it will layoff more than a third of its employees or around 3,000 job cuts, as part of a plan to save the business.
Pret A Manger said the job cuts will mainly affect workers at its shops but it will also layoff 90 employees at its support center. Because of the pandemic, demand from commuters and office workers, a crucial market for the chain, plunged dramatically.
Earlier this summer. the sandwich chain said it would permanently shut down 30 of its stores.
Pret A Manger chief executive officer (CEO) Pano Christou said he was “gutted” to lose so many colleagues.
Christou explained: “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,” he added.
The firm had warned it would cut 1,000 jobs back in June, but this number was increased after it finalized a restructuring deal this week.
During the lockdown, Pret was forced to stop its operations for several months and while restrictions have been loosened, activity at the stores remained slow.
Its 367 stores in the UK are now open for significantly less hours than they were before the pandemic, and the firm has asked staff to reduce their hours.
Reduced hours for staff
Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it has asked thousands of staff to work fewer hours, as part of a post-pandemic restructuring. In-store employees were asked to reduce their work hours by around 20%.
A Pret spokeswoman said: “Our biggest priority is to do everything we can to save jobs. With footfall in our shops still significantly below normal levels, we have had to review the hours team members are contracted to work each week – although of course we hope to increase these hours as trade improves.”
“By making these changes we are able to save a large number of roles,” she argued.
Pret A Manger reported weekly sales of around £5.2 million this month, about the same numbers it was posting in August 2010, when the business was considerably smaller.
However, the company emphasized that this was a sign that a recovery was “clearly under way”, with sales increasing by 7% on a weekly basis since July.
Struggling hospitality firms in the UK
Pret A Manger’s announcement of job cuts is the latest among hospitality companies in the UK due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, SSP Group, owner of Upper Crust, said it will reduce its workforce by up to 5,000 jobs, as it struggles with reduced passenger travel at railway stations and airports.
Meanwhile, the Restaurant Group, owner of Pizza Express, Byron Burger and Frankie & Benny’s, also announced large-scale store closures and layoffs.
Government data has shown that around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April and 1.4 million workers were furloughed, registering the highest number of furloughs among sectors.
According to industry body UK Hospitality, about one-third of restaurants and bars have yet to reopen despite the easing of lockdown, as people remain nervous about the spread of the virus.