Pret a Manger announced today (Friday 16 October) that they are making another 400 job cuts as the growth in business at the company faltered last month after promising sales since the end of lockdown. By the calculations of the NTI newsroom this is going to save them more than £1200 an hour.
It used to be that Pret had the nicest and most cheery staff of any of the sandwich purveyors, increasing the pleasure of buying a vegetable juice to wash down an Italian deli salad. However, it seems that some of those who remain with them (the company having axed 2,800 jobs in August having realised that the strategy of having five outlets on every street in London wasn't the smartest) must think that wearing a mask means we can neither see them nor hear the scratchy boredom in their voices. We can and we can. Where have all those nice Eastern European people gone?
Today's announcement means that six more shops will close, a reaction to London going into 'Tier 2' from Saturday, meaning we cannot mix with a baguette indoors and must eat it through our face mask. Clare Clough, managing director, seems nice and is clearly under strain, saying: “We’ve said all along that it’s up to Pret to decide our own future and that we must adapt to the new situation we find ourselves in. That’s why we have to make these further changes as we continue to transform our business model and prepare for the six months ahead."
Hmm, six shops, eh, Clare? Just 400 people? We are already preparing our next headline for the next wave. Yesterday Neil met two grumpy members of your team at the foot of the stairs of the store on Waterloo Station begging him to walk up and buy two boiled eggs and some spinach. Regrettably, he didn't have £13 on him, so had to renege. The language he heard from behind the masks of those two turned his own mask blue.
Pret calls its current issues a "setback" in trading, partially driven by difficult conditions in the capital. At the NTI newsroom we think it will all end in tiers.