Britain’s high street has been dealt a further blow by the economic fallout of the coronavirus with loss of a thousand shop jobs and more stores closing.

Pret A Manger is to shut six more shops and cut around another 400 staff in the face of the resurgent pandemic.

The recovery of the coffee and sandwich chain has been hampered by recent changes to COVID-19 guidance and rising case numbers.

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Edinburgh Woollen Mill had warned of ‘significant cuts and closures’

In August, the company axed 2,800 posts and closed 30 sites due to the economic downturn caused by coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), which also owns Peacocks and Jaeger, has confirmed that 600 jobs are to go and that 50 stores will close.

The group, which employs 24,000 people, last week filed a notice to appoint administrators and warned of « significant cuts and closures ».

The shops affected are mainly Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill branches and the staff being made redundant, mostly shop-floor workers.

Peacocks store
Edinburgh Woollen Mill also owns Peacocks and Jaeger

A spokesman for EWM said: « Through all of this we are having to make difficult decisions and take urgent action to try to secure the future of our businesses wherever possible »

Pret said it had seen « consistent sales growth » in the four months since reopening outlets but this had « slowed since the end of September ».

Pret said its recent « setback » in trading was partially driven by difficult conditions in the capital, after workers were advised last month to work from home where possible.

The locations of the affected stores have not been announced but it is understood they are all based in the capital.

It currently has 389 shops in the UK, including 266 stores in London.

Pret currently has 389 shops in the UK, including 266 stores in London

Clare Clough, Pret’s UK managing director, said: « It’s absolutely right that we take steps to stop the spread of the virus and tackle the new wave of infections.

« Sadly, the result of the rise in infections and the necessary shift in public health guidance mean that our recovery has slowed.

« We’ve said all along that it’s up to Pret to decide our own future and that we must adapt to the new situation we find ourselves in.

« That’s why we have to make these further changes as we continue to transform our business model and prepare for the six months ahead.

« We are doing everything we can to support our team members and to prevent further job losses at Pret. »

The group has looked to diversify its operations in recent months in a bid to turnaround its fortunes, including a monthly subscription service for customers.

Earlier this week, Pret announced its first service station site in a partnership with Moto, with it due to open in December.


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