British coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger on Thursday said it was cutting 2,800 jobs as a result of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The high-street chain’s announcement comes after it said last month it was planning a restructuring that would lead to the closure of 30 of its 410 UK branches.
It also follows concern from the Confederation of British Industry, which represents employers, that city centres could become “ghost towns” if more people did not go back to offices.
The company said that despite improvements since lockdown restrictions were eased in July, trade was still down by about 60 percent compared to the same time last year.
It blamed “shorter opening hours, lower transaction levels, and the losses faced by the business in 2020” for the cuts, which will mostly affect shop staff.
“I’m gutted that we’ve had to lose so many colleagues,” chief executive Pano Christou said in a statement.
“Although we’re now starting to see a steady but slow recovery, the pandemic has taken away almost a decade of growth at Pret.”
Pret said 90 support centre jobs would go but about 1,000 positions at the company have been kept after staff agreed to reduced working hours.
The company said it would monitor footfall and sales for the rest of this year and into early next year, and keep those positions under review.
Pret is a familiar sight on British high streets and has 550 outlets around the world, bought British rival EAT last year as part of plans to boost its vegetarian and vegan offerings.
CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn said city centre outlets such as sandwich bars were being hit hard by the reduction in passing trade as people continued to work from home.