Pret a Manger, one of Britain’s biggest sandwich chains, has appointed advisers to hold rent talks with landlords as it reopens another 200 shops but expects reduced footfall.
Pano Christou, the chief executive, said he had called in Alvarez & Marsal, the professional services company, and CWM, a property agent, to help overhaul its business model as its customer base of commuting office workers remain working from home.
Pret, which has about 8,000 employees and roughly 430 shops in the UK, belongs to JAB, a global consumer goods investor. Like other firms in the hospitality and leisure sector, it is gearing up for long-term changes to trading as social-distancing measures continue but the national coronavirus lockdown is gradually lifted.
“Like the rest of the industry, we have been radically adapting our business model to succeed in the face of the changing market conditions,” Mr Christou said. “Reduced footfall, combined with high rental costs, have placed substantial pressure on our business.”
The company had already started selling coffee on Amazon this month and launched a delivery service for sandwiches, coffee and groceries with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. The US food retailer Panera Bread, also owned by JAB, has likewise moved to selling groceries and online.
Pret will reopen 200 UK shops tomorrow, having done so with 100 other locations earlier this month, with protective screens and limits on the number of customers in its shops at any one time. This leaves about 130 more stores temporarily shut and subject to negotiations with landlords.