Pret a Manger have announced they are set to close 30 branches across the UK putting around 1,000 jobs at risk.
This comes due to a high loss of footfall following the pandemic, and the store closures could come into effect before the end of the year.
Pret chief executive Pano Christou said, “When the coronavirus crisis hit, we said that 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 lockdown, 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 that 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 that 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 that we will come through this crisis and have a bright future if we take the right steps today.”
Christou said the company has lost “tens of millions of pounds” each month due to the pandemic, and are unable to meet many rent repayments.
Pret appointed City advisors in May as the company are considering a range of options, such as company voluntary arrangement (CVA) insolvency process, which will enable the firm to shut sites down that are making no profit.
Since the start of the pandemic Pret have raised €100m emergency funding which also saw the company cut executive pay.
A video call to staff which was leaked to the BBC, Christou said, “We’ll be doing a broader communication to the teams, just talking through the initial work that’s been done on this, so things will start to become clearer from July 8.”
Andy Barr, retail expert and co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk said, “In London and other prominent UK cities, it’s hard to turn a corner without being faced with the offerings of a Pret a Manger cafe. The brand is a staple amongst busy city commuters who can rely on the name for a quick breakfast on the go or a much-needed cup of coffee each morning.
“Despite this familiarity and high street domination, and even taking into account the expected losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pret is seeing much more dramatic losses in UK outlets when compared with other territories across the globe, with British sales down 74% compared to this time last year.
“One could argue that as the economy begins to slowly recover and Britons begin to go about their everyday lives, they are making the conscious effort to support local and independently owned cafes and coffee shops.
“Alternatively, many have also taken the lockdown experience to re-evaluate their financial outgoings, and will prepare their own hot drinks and food at home or in their offices as they return to work in a bid to save money and prepare for the expected global recession.
“Either of these scenarios have potentially devastating consequences for coffee chains like Pret if enough of their customer base follows suit.”