Pret A Manger is to close 30 of its 410 outlets after seeing sales across its UK stores fall by almost three quarters as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Following the outbreak of the virus, Pret was hit with what it is calling: “Significant operating losses” after sales across UK shops fell by 74% year on year.

The sandwich and coffee shop had reopened some of its stores but is now looking to enter rent negotiations with its landlords and had appointed property agents to undertake the talks on its behalf.

As well as closing 30 shops across the UK in the second half of 2020, the company says it will also be reducing the number of staff operating in its remaining stores to reflect the lower levels of demand, putting around 1,000 jobs at risk as it undertakes a restructuring. It added that support will be given to those leaving the company to find new roles.

Alongside the planned reduction in headcount, Pret will also be starting a sale process for the lease of its main support office in London, Victoria.

“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.”

CEO 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.”