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Mon 6th Jul 2020 - Pret to restructure and reshape business, 30 sites to close
Pret to restructure and reshape business, 30 sites to close: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, has announced it will undergo a restructure, which will see 30 of its UK sites permanently close. It comes after the company experienced a 74% drop in sales year-on-year due to the “significant impact of covid-19 on operating costs and cash flow”. The company, which has so far reopened 339 of its 410 UK sites, said it was to start a consultation to reduce headcount across remaining UK shops to reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures. It also said it planned a reduction in the number of support roles and a sale of the lease for its main support office in London’s Victoria. It said the consultation will commence with shop teams and impacted support centre teams this week. No final decisions will be made until the consultation is complete. The company said it was also experiencing a much slower recovery in the UK, in comparison with other countries it trades in. It said discussions with landlords across the Pret estate over a more sustainable leasehold model are also ongoing. The company said reduced sales have also had an impact on its main charity, the Pret Foundation. The group said: “To enable the Foundation to continue its important work fighting poverty and helping the homeless, a major fund-raising campaign will be launched during the second half of the year, beginning with a digital raffle.” Pret also said plans were underway to reshape the brand’s business model over the medium term. It said: “While much of Pret’s historic growth has been built around office locations and serving office workers, a key focus in future will be about bringing Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways. In recent weeks, Pret has launched a retail coffee offering with Amazon, broadened its delivery and digital footprint in partnership with Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats, and launched click and collect trials in five shops in London. Sales across these digital aggregator channels have already grown 480% year-on-year, and now represent more than 8% of total UK sales.” Pret chief executive Pano Christou, said: “When the coronavirus crisis hit, we said our priority was to protect our people, our customers, and of course Pret. We confirmed it was our intention to do everything we could to save jobs. Although we were able to do that through the lock-down, thanks in particular to the government’s vital support, we cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic. That is why we have adapted our business and found new ways to reach our customers. It’s a sad day for the whole Pret family, and I’m devastated we will be losing so many employees. These decisions are not a reflection on anyone’s work or commitment. But we must make these changes to succeed in the new retail environment. We will be supporting our leavers to find new positions through a number of initiatives. Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways so we can continue to provide great jobs and opportunities to our remaining employees. While Pret may look and feel different in the short term, one thing I know is we will come through this crisis and have a bright future if we take the right steps today.”

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