// Pret a Manger is seeking to delay debt repayments in the aftermath of extra borrowing it undertook during the pandemic
// The sandwich seller has until June to repay £66.7m in loans after it extended its financing facilities to help it get through a difficult period when office workers avoided its central London heartland
Pret a Manger is attempting to delay debt repayments following two years of lockdown turmoil as it tries to secure its future.
Pret has until June to repay £66.7m in loans after it extended financing facilities, according to The Telegraph. The sandwich seller took on more debt during the pandemic as a lack of office workers commuting to city centres hammered sales.
A separate £605m loan facility is due to expire in summer next year.
Pret was hit hard during the pandemic. According to accounts filed at Companies House, it reported an operating loss of £257m in 2020 after sales tumbled 58% to £299m.
According to filings, its directors are now seeking to negotiate the extension of the first tranche of debt and to refinance its larger bank facility in company filings.
However, the food-to-go business admitted that there were factors that were outside of its control, such as new Covid restrictions and “associated unpredictability of consumer behaviour”, which could impact its ability to continue as a going concern.
But it said there was a “reasonable expectation” that the company would be able to continue in operation and meet liabilities and would seek shareholder support if necessary.
Pret may still be on the road to recovery, however, boss Pano Christou is eyeing growth and plans to open more than 200 stores across the UK and expand overseas over the next two years. The expansion comes after owner JAB and founder Sinclair Beecham injected £100m into the chain.
The coffee and sandwich specialist, which has traditional focused on trading in central London, will grow its footprint in regional and suburban areas alongside transport hubs and motorway service stations, with around 100 of the new stores being franchised.