Pret a Manger sees City of London sales plummet 30% amid Omicron wave

Sales slump at Pret a Manger as the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 strain keeps city workers at home over December.
Pret's prevalence of stores in London has put it at a disadvantage in the move to once again work from home.
// Sales slump at Pret a Manger as the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 strain keeps city workers at home
// Pret told the ONS that transactions at nearly all its UK urban stores fell in the week ending 16 December

Pret a Manger saw sales at its City of London and Canary Wharf sandwich and coffee bars fall by nearly 30 per cent in a single week after the UK government implemented restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Under the government’s Plan B, which came into force on 13 December, people are urged to work from home if they can and face coverings are mandatory in indoor public venues.

Pret, which operates around 400 stores across the UK, has been hit hard by the pandemic and associated changes in working behaviour.


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The chain’s prevalence of stores in London has put it at a disadvantage as once again people from home and while office lunch sales had begun to recover in the second half of the year, coffee sales were still down on pre-pandemic levels.

Data released today revealed till transaction volumes at Pret’s cafes catering to City workers fell 29 per cent between the week ending December 9 and the week ending December 16, to just 52 per cent of January 2020 levels.

This was the lowest level of trading in London City stores since the week ending September 2, when many City workers were on holiday.

“We know we need to keep pushing in London’s business districts and constantly think about new ways to grow our business in those crucial markets,” Pret chief executive Pano Christou said in late November.

In a bid to address this, Pret launched a new loyalty scheme called Pret Perks, which began a phased rollout on December 1, 2021. It followed on from the launch of its subscription service, which launched during the pandemic, allowing customers access to five free coffees per day for the price of £20 per month.

However, while the subscription service has proven popular with customers, it has also opened Pret up to criticism – from both customers and staff, with the chain receiving over 5,000 complaints about the offer, with many drinks unavailable.

Christou told Bloomberg this week: “Day in and day out, we’re closing more and more stores and how far that will go, I don’t know… The biggest concern is government support for things such as the furlough scheme. Without that, Pret can’t hold thousands of people on payroll for that long.”

Pret has now been forced to close over 70 stores since Covid hit but managed to secure emergency bank funding in April 2020, before receiving an £185 million capital injection from its owner, Luxembourg-based group JAB.

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