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Pret A Manger closes more UK shops, cuts more jobs as trading dips

LONDON (Reuters) - British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger said on Friday it would close six more shops and likely cut a further 400 jobs as trading had deteriorated in recent weeks as a result of government curbs to stem rising cases of COVID-19.

FILE PHOTO: A bag is passed to a customer at Pret a Manger in New Cavendish Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Owned by investment group JAB Holdings, Pret permanently closed 30 UK shops and cut 2,800 jobs, or a third of its workforce in August.

The firm said that over the last four months it had seen consistent sales growth, with consecutive weeks of trading progress since April. However growth has slowed since the end of September.

On Sept. 22 Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britons to work from home where possible as infection rates increased.

Pret has 389 shops in the United Kingdom, with many located on high streets, at transport hubs and close to offices that are still largely deserted.

“The worsening rates of COVID-19 and the impact on trade in the City of London have meant Pret’s recovery has suffered a setback,” said Pret’s UK managing director Clare Clough.

“The changes Pret is announcing today will enable Pret to continue to adapt through the winter.”

To help it survive the crisis, Pret last month launched a subscription service for drinks.

It is also selling coffee beans through Amazon AMZN.O and has new partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat TKWY.AS and Uber Eats UBER.N.

Pret employs about 9,000 globally, including 6,500 in the UK.

Reporting by James Davey, editing by Louise Heavens

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