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UK coffee chain Pret facing jobs fallout from virus lockdown

British coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger will shut 30 UK shops after demand dived during the coronavirus lockdown, the company said Monday as it eyed 1,000 job cuts.

Pret, which currently has 550 outlets worldwide, has decided to close 30 of its 410 UK branches and reduce staffing levels due to the "significant impact" of the outbreak on its operating costs and cashflow, the company said in the statement.

AFP understands the measures could see Pret shed 1,000 staff members, or one eighth of its total workforce in Britain.

"Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Pret has faced significant operating losses," the company said. 

"While the business has reopened over 300 UK shops and established an effective new operating model to protect customers and team members, footfall and sales remain down across the UK. 

"Sales across UK shops are 74 percent down year on year. Pret is also experiencing a much slower recovery in the UK, in comparison to the other countries it trades in.

"As a result, 30 shops across the UK will be closed permanently in the second half of 2020.

"The business has also made the difficult decision to reduce shop teams across its remaining UK shops to reflect the lower levels of demand."

Monday's gloomy news comes after SSP, the British owner of food outlets in railway stations and airports worldwide, said last week it may cut up to 5,000 UK jobs as the coronavirus pandemic keeps its customers away.

Pret had purchased smaller British rival EAT last year as it sought to tap into growing UK popularity of vegetarian and vegan food.

Topics: Pret a Manger , coronavirus , lockdown , cashflow , UK
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