Pret a Manger said on Monday that it would close 30 stores in the UK and begin consultations on job losses, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and a 74% drop-off in sales.
Store employees and support teams based at its Victoria office in London will be affected by the job cuts, the company said in a statement.
Up to 1,000 jobs are at risk due to the moves, according to the Press Association.
The sandwich and coffee chain said that it was experiencing a “much slower recovery” in the UK compared to the nine other countries it operated in.
Pret said that it faced “significant operating losses,” noting that footfall and sales remained below typical levels across the UK. Sales across its UK stores have plummeted by 74% year-on-year, it said.
No final decisions on job losses will be made until consultations with employees have been completed, Pret said.
“It’s a sad day for the whole Pret family, and I’m devastated that we will be losing so many employees,” said chief executive Pano Christou.
“But we must make these changes to adapt to the new retail environment. Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways, enabling us to grow once more in the medium term,” he said.
The chain’s upmarket sandwich offerings have seen it become a global chain with hundreds of outlets, primarily servicing office workers looking for healthy and inexpensive lunch options.
Even as the easing of coronavirus restrictions has allowed Pret to reopen many of its stores, it has been dented by the thousands of firms who have instructed their employees to work from home.
The company said on Monday that it had begun assessing how it could reshape its business model over the medium-term. Citing its current dependence on office workers, it said it would focus on “bringing Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways.”
Pret currently employs 8,000 people in the UK across 410 stores. The company said that some 339 of its stores have now reopened. A further 41 will reopen, while 30 will not.
The sandwich chain operates a further 140 stores in nine other countries, including the US, Hong Kong, China, France, Germany, and Denmark.
Pret said that it would be making a series of additional changes to its business later this year, including beginning a sale process for the lease on its main support office in Victoria.
The company also said that it had hired external consultants to complete a full review of its real estate, noting that it was working “collaboratively” with its landlords to ensure the viability of as many of its UK stores as possible.
Pret, founded in 1984, was sold for £1.5bn ($1.9bn) in 2018 to an investment fund of Germany’s billionaire Reimann family.
Here are the 30 stores that Pret is planning to close permanently:
St George University Kiosk
Heathrow Terminal 3
109 Fleet Street
Strutton Ground, Westminster
Centre Point, Tottenham Court Road
The Cut, Southwark
Wood Sreet, Barbican
Worcester, 59 High Street
Nottingham, Albert Street
Cambridge, Lion Yard
Uxbridge, High Street
Reading, Broad Street
Peterborough, Queensgate Centre
Edinburgh, Shandwick Place
Chichester, East Street
Glasgow Fort shopping centre
Leicester, Gallowtree Gate
Cardiff, Capitol Centre
Newcastle, Grainger Street