Pret a Manger ends office focus and targets new post-COVID future with hiring spree

22 September 2021, 04:54 | Updated: 22 September 2021, 10:33

Pret A Manger has revealed plans to hire 3,000 staff through a post-coronavirus strategy that will see it target sales away from city centre offices after a pandemic driven slump.

The coffee and sandwich chain, which cut thousands of jobs as its outlets were hammered by COVID-19 restrictions that forced customers to work from home, said it planned to open 200 shops in the next two years mainly in suburban areas, railways stations and motorway service areas.

It reported that UK sales were approaching pre-pandemic levels again following a 58% slump in revenue last year to £299m, resulting in an operating loss of £256.5m as it got to grips with temporary store closures.

In addition to its growth plan for the UK, Pret said it was also targeting entry to five new markets by the end of 2023.

It currently has just shy of 400 shops in the UK while there is a total of 150 more across France, the US, Dubai and Hong Kong.

It said that its plans would result in the group doubling in size, despite the potential threat from the current supply chain disruption and national worker shortage in its core market.

Pret hoped that the recent announcement of a 5% pay rise for its cafe workers would entice jobseekers to its doors.

It credited £100m of new investment from founder Sinclair Beecham and majority owner JAB for its expansion effort.

Both had contributed a total of £185m to get the chain through the crisis and back on its feet.

Pret launched retail coffee products, a coffee subscription service and expanded through delivery operators in a bid to build back and its chief executive, Pano Christou, told the PA news agency the omni-channel approach had made it more resilient.

"We are keen to open more stores in regional and suburban areas, as these have been really strong recently.

"We have obviously kept an eye on the way trends have shifted since the pandemic and obviously areas such as service stations have been particularly busy, so that is why we have linked with Moto and Motor Fuel Group.

"We are seeing lots of property opportunities but it is unsurprisingly competitive for the best sites, but I think landlords see us as a really strong brand and are keen to bring Pret in."