Pret a Manger looks to hire back all the staff it cut in the pandemic as Britain’s economy powers back
Pret a Manger is hiring all the staff it cut last year in a sign that Britain’s businesses are roaring back from the pandemic.
The cafe chain was one of several companies yesterday – including Saga and bowling firm Ten Entertainment – to report improving sales.
Pret is looking for 3,000 staff by the end of 2022, after cutting that number during lockdowns last year.
Hiring: Pret a Manger is looking for 3,000 staff by the end of 2022, after cutting that number during lockdowns last year
The coffee and sandwich business, battered by Covid as commuters and office workers deserted city centres, wants to double its size in five years.
Saga, the over-50s insurance and holiday firm, also had a positive update for investors.
It scraped a £700,000 profit between February and July, up from a loss of £55.5million in the same period last year.
While travel restrictions meant the business was still burning through £5.9million a month, this was less than the £7million to £9million it had expected.
Its cruises have resumed, and chief executive Euan Sutherland said performance in Saga’s insurance division had been ‘strong’.
Ten Entertainment has experienced ‘record sales’ since reopening after the winter lockdown. It runs 46 bowling alleys and entertainment centres in the UK, with like-for-like sales up 42 per cent in the 11 weeks since June 27.
Chief executive Graham Blackwell said: ‘It is great to see our investment in people and our centres paying off, with our most successful ever summer.’
He said the business would return to growth, look at acquisitions and put more money into opening sites.
Pret boss Pano Christou told the BBC: ‘Last year we were in the eye of the storm during the height of the pandemic.
Now we have the chance to build a bright new future for Pret. It’s been a tough two years, but we have a big opportunity.’
The encouraging words from bosses will be welcomed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is relying on a strong economic recovery to boost tax receipts to prune the national debt.
Economists fear ‘stagflation’ – where output stagnates but the cost of living climbs – amid signs inflation is rising, which would hit recovery. Stagflation is considered dangerous, as rising prices can be accompanied by higher unemployment.
At Saga, Sutherland said the business was ‘emerging from the pandemic stronger than it had entered’.
It is trying to turn over a new leaf, with Sir Roger De Haan – the former owner and son of founder Sidney De Haan – as chairman. He bought a 26.4 per cent stake last year as it took £150million in an emergency capital-raise.
De Haan said: ‘Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we are in a far stronger position than a year ago. Our insurance broking and underwriting divisions have performed resiliently.’