24 April 2020 | UK

Pret A Manger seeks €100m emergency finance as UK hospitality reels from coronavirus

JAB Holdings-controlled food-to-go and coffee chain reportedly in discussions to secure €100m (£87.4m) emergency funding to build new products and systems after coronavirus

A Pret A Manger store in central London | Photo: Håkan Dahlström



Speaking to the Financial Times Pret CEO Pano Christou said the business had enough cash to see it through the crisis, but needed additional funding to support the reopening of stores and invest in growth after coronavirus.

Pret, which has around 500 stores in the UK and a presence across the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, is reportedly seeking private financing and has not applied for a UK government loan.
 
"As a business coming out of this, we might look different, possibly smaller. I wish I could tell you in six months what size Pret will be. What I can tell you is that Pret will still be there," Christou said.
 
With the exception of a handful of stores near key worker sites that have remained open, the vast majority of Pret’s UK stores have been closed since the government effectively shut down the UK’s hospitality economy in March.
 
Pret A Manger’s search for new funding comes as UK hospitality grapples with unprecedented disruption due to coronavirus. The pandemic has already led to high-profile casualties, including restaurant groups Carluccio's and Chiquito, with the future of most cafés, bars and restaurants remaining deeply uncertain.
 
The UK government launched its coronavirus job retention scheme on 20 April, which reimburses employers 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month for employees furloughed rather than made redundant. More than 435,000 businesses applied for the scheme in three days after it was launched, amounting to some £3.8bn of support to pay the wages of 3.2 million workers.
 
Meanwhile, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed 80% of the UK’s hospitality workforce has been furloughed due to coronavirus. The survey of 6,150 UK businesses also found 81% of food and accommodation businesses and 82% of entertainment and recreation firms have ceased trading due to coronavirus.
 

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