Pret A Manger took the decision to temporarily close its shops after the government announced lockdown measures in late March. Since then, Pret has gradually reopened more than 100 shops, with a host of new safety and social distancing measures to protect its teams and customers.
Clare Clough, UK MD of Pret, explains how they made it happen:
“It was an incredibly difficult decision to close the doors of our UK shops on 21 March. Although we could no longer be part of our customers’ daily lives, we used the next few weeks to donate Pret items to charity partners and hospitals across the country. But we also heard from local NHS workers and hospitals that they wanted to be able to access freshly made food nearby.
On 16 April, we initially reopened 10 shops in London, to help give frontline healthcare workers better access to freshly prepared food while also getting our supply chain up and running again to deliver food to those who need it most. This was followed by a further 20 shops a week later, all for takeaway and delivery only. This gradual process has helped us reach a point where we now have 100 shops open across the country, in line with government guidance.
The Pret experience for both our customers and teams feels very different. In our shops, we’ve fitted Perspex screens at the tills, where customers can only pay by card. We’ve restricted the number of customers in our shops, whilst using clear floor markings outside to enable customers to queue 2 meters apart. We’ve provided hand sanitiser for customers and face coverings to our staff who prefer to wear one. There is also a designated pick up point for delivery drivers, with all deliveries contact-free as standard.
Behind the scenes, we’ve introduced operational changes in our kitchens, including a nominated ‘kitchen runner’, who gets the products needed for each team member doing food preparation, in order to minimise the amount of movement in the kitchen. There are limited benches for food preparation, all spaced apart, while other restrictions are in place which allow only one person in certain areas of the kitchen at any one time. We’ve also enhanced our already strict hygiene and cleaning processes.
We are hugely grateful to the team members who have already returned or are returning to work. This has been a challenging time for us all, and the continued commitment of our teams means a lot.
Our number one priority has always been to protect our team members, and safeguarding jobs is a key part of that. Since we closed our shops, we have been making full use of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme has helped us immensely in our efforts to protect as many jobs as possible throughout this difficult period.”
The government has published COVID-19 secure guidance to support businesses to reopen and for workers to feel confident, safe and empowered to return to work.
If you run a business and would like to know which of the coronavirus support schemes you are eligible for, you can use the business support finder tool. It takes just minutes to complete and will help you easily find support for your business.