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The Pandemic Has Left London’s Ubiquitous Sandwich Chain in Real Trouble

Pret a Manger announces 2,900 job cuts and the closure of 30 branches across the U.K.

Pret a Manger is closing 30 stores across the U.K., which includes 11 in London
Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Pret a Manger, one of Britain’s most recognisable high street sandwich chains, has announced it will cut nearly 3,000 jobs and close 30 stores across the U.K. as it reels from the multifarious effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The cuts represent over a third of its total workforce, and while the majority of the job losses will come from among its shop staff, 90 roles from within the company’s central office will also be cut.

In London, as first reported in July, the company has said that 11 sites will permanently close, mostly in central locations which have been unable to recover to pre-pandemic levels due to the shortage of commuters, low numbers of workers returning to offices, and international tourists staying away from the capital.

Before the pandemic, Pret’s total estate numbered 389. That number will be cut to 367 across the U.K., with stores and staff operating on reduced hours.

In July, when the number of store closures was first announced, Pret said it would be cutting 1,000 jobs. That number has risen after the company confirmed its “restructuring” plan last week.

Pret boss, Pano Christou said that August trading had represented something of a recovery after weeks of closure during lockdown. Sales across the group were at £5.2 million, a level the company was trading at 10 years ago when it was a far smaller operation. Christou also said he was “gutted” to have to make so many job cuts.

BBC News reports the boss saying: “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.”

The full list of stores that will close in London are:

St George University Kiosk
421 Strand
Heathrow Terminal 3
109 Fleet Street
Strutton Ground, Westminster
Centre Point, Tottenham Court Road
Warwick Way
Byward Street
The Cut, Southwark
41 Piccadilly
Wood Street, Barbican