Why it's a good day to be working for Pret a Manger

Geir Darge · 31 May

Here’s some news to restore your faith in humanity:


In the wake of Pret a Manger’s £1.5bn acquisition by the Reinman brothers, the chain has promised a payout of £1000… to each of its employees!

The news that the Krispy Kreme owner, JAB Holdings, was to take control of the coffee shop chain broke without much excitement.

However the following morning, chief executive Clive Schlee tweeted that “as we welcome JAB, we’ll be thanking the people who really matter by giving each of our 12,000 employees £1,000 when the deal completes”. This includes any and all new employees, for whom the gift will be “serendipity”.

This is a pretty big deal and, while commonplace in finance or tech, sets an unusual precedent the hospitality sector.

Pret’s story

The company was started back in 1986, by friends Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham in a small shop beside Victoria.

The two friends enjoyed a reasonable run of success and sold the business in 2008 to Bridgepoint Central, at which point the operation snowballed. Now “Pret”, as it is commonly referred to, is one of the UK’s top five most successful coffee shop chains with over 500 outlets.

Too good to be true?

This is not to say that Pret is immune to criticism. Back in 2013, the company received a fair bit of stick for adopting ‘affective labour’ practices. This refers to the stringent emotional standards that can exist in the service industry, where managers expect their employees to appear fun-loving and happy.

However, leaders from Pret’s head office deny that anything is ‘forced’ upon their employees, claiming instead that the standards they expect are incorporated into recruitment. The company do not hire on experience but on a person's compatibility with their cultural tenants: passion, clear talking and team working.

Looking after employees

At any rate, Pret are leagues ahead of many hospitality outlets, by paying their staff a Living Wage of £9.70 per hour. On top of this, employees can expect £1 extra per hour if their outlet receives positive feedback from weekly mystery shoppers.

The chain are also committed to investing in their own employees and advocate promoting in-house wherever possible. Pret claim that 80% of their managers start at from the bottom and work their way up.

Despite offering a competitive salary, recruitment has been tough for the high-street giant since Brexit. As only an estimated one in 50 of applications are from British citizens, the company have struggled to fill vacancies.

So the promise of additional £1000 per employee will more than likely help kickstart recruitment over the next few months.

Want to know more about thriving in the Hospitality sector? Why not check out our video we made with Wasabi

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