(This is an x-ray of my left middle finger after an accident at work.
I wanted to use this picture, but am still waiting for permission to use,
but maybe I will leave my finger here. More fitting for Pret!)
n. the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
The knack of always saying the wrong thing. The expression is both a verbal play on the foot-and-mouth disease that affects livestock and on the expression “to put one’s foot in one’s mouth,” meaning to make a verbal blunder. The latter dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The current cliché is much newer, dating from the mid-twentieth century.
At least Three Feet in One Mouth
I’m sure Clive Schlee, exiting (certainly not exciting!) CEO of Pret A Manger has been advised to lay low, and not spill the beans prematurely regarding internal things on Twitter & Co.
He gives himself away every opportunity he has, it seems. He certainly didn’t expect that his patronizing way in talking to me would end up with a “dot org” behind it.
For any new reader asking what happened? In short, Clive Schlee, pretending that my traumatic late night emailing to Pret was wrong (I also emailed tons of other people), he put his foot in his mouth, belittling me by introducing me to the Director of HR, Andrea Wareham in October 2017 as his “late night girl”. Two months later under his watch I was dismissed while my dad was in hospital, just out of a coma. My full story about this is in the interview audio player at the bottom of this page.
When I started this website, I started it as LateNightGirl.org, which still functions under this handle. Since then I have been writing about, and confronting Pret and Clive Schlee openly. I have “caught” them many times in their clumsiness on Twitter. And I use their “foot-in-mouth disease” to show the public how unprofessional, patronizing and non-caring they really are.
I write so blunt because I almost lost my life and witnessed too many times how Pret names and shames managers via emails to all shops when they fail. I keep asking for independent investigations into staff suicides. I also write extensively about the systemic bullying environment in Pret, something most in the public are surprised and shocked to hear about. Don’t be, if you live long enough, you will come to know that if something looks too good to be true, to better take a closer look. Two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal allergy reaction, several hospitalized and numerous warnings on allergen labels ignored, even after the deaths occurred. This should ring massive alarm bells! But here we are again, as long as it doesn’t affect us or our loved ones, we keep believing the fairy tale that is Pret A Manger, and our lives revolve around the free coffee and cookie marketing carrot.
For a comprehensive list of issues in Pret that I experienced, observed, researched and gathered, please visit The Most Comprehensive Website on Pret A Manger.
So, where does Mr. Schlee put his foot in his mouth?
#One of the many opportunities he takes to spill the beans on things, is a little more hidden revelation he never expected to be caught out on. On his Pret blog on the former homeless employees, they call the “Rising Stars” they came up with the idea for the “Rising Stars” to solely run an entire shop by themselves, from the General Manager (GM) to the newest recruit. It all sounds so well, yet it is a dead give-away how the Pret Foundation is more a marketing tool than anything.
Clive Schlee writes:
“Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”
Again: “Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”
Leaving them too exposed for what?
And why being careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shop teams? (Short-term homeless and mainly young people mind you!)
Too exposed for this, Mr. Schlee?
Slideshow can be paused
The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in → Pret Staff Complaints
Some people in the public aren’t impressed and take a closer look:
Not impressed with only 450 “Rising Stars” having come through the program in 10 years, with 12K employees! Georgia Greenfield couldn’t be fooled either. Why so few? Because it only takes a handful of people or things to blow up a bigger picture than it actually is. It’s like advertising 5 cheap airline seats and winning hundreds of customers buying flights, as they assume many or all seats of that flight are cheap. The seats go fast and once a person goes online to book that seat, it’s gone and they find another flight just a bit more expensive.
It’s always good to have a second foot to put in one’s mouth. This one still gives me the chuckles. I wrote an extra blog post on the Timing of the £1000 announcement that Schlee made on Twitter. But in a nutshell, to this day 01. September 2019 the 29. May 2018 is the most visited day on my blog that I can see in my website statistics. Late in the evening on the 28. May 2018 I sent a link of my blog here to an Operations / Area Manager (OPs) I used to work under. I know this OPs to not keep secrets very well. Up until the 28. May 2018 my website was visited 3, 5 or even 10 times a day, sometimes even zero visitors.
I woke up on 29. May 2018 after having sent a link to the OPs late on 28. May 2018, and my website exploded into a three-digit number even before noon.
That day, early morning on 29. May 2018, Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement for all staff on Twitter.
In October 2018 staff were still waiting for it to “moneyfest” (sorry had to!), and in August already started to get adjudicated, wondering if it was all a joke.
Only few people at least saw through this PR stunt:
Of course the money, which after tax came to £800, was finally paid out to staff who work(ed) longer than a year at Pret. But the announcement was made prematurely, once Clive Schlee and Pret became aware of my blog, quickly trying to win the public and staff over with a little PR carrot.
Fasting forward to July 2019, the bribe didn’t really convince staff after all, but I’m delighted to having pressed Clive Schlee’s panic button, but feel sorry for the staff who had to wait so long.
Being careful to integrate the “Rising Stars” into regular shops makes sense as Clive Schlee and the now new CEO Pano Christou not only are aware of work conditions, but set the tone for profit and the share holders / owners. I call the staff from the regular shops who mainly dare to speak out anonymously, the “Fallen Stars”. And no former homeless person or anyone with a difficult past or mental health condition, would last long in a “regular” shop. It would give Pret a bad name if a “Rising Star” was catapulted back on the streets after having suffered what these “Fallen Stars” suffer on a daily basis and what I have survived during bereavement:
This one gives me a feeling of anger at all the fear management Pret hurls at hard working people with the anxiety I have suffered under them, and then Clive Schlee being so careless, clumsy and seemingly narcissistic in his communication. They are not as scary after all! It also gives me a sense of almost feeling sorry for him. But I have no “pity” nor empathy for this millionaire under whose “leadership” two customers died, staff suffer and suicides still need to be investigated.
On 30. June 2019 I saw a little, quiet tweet to Clive Schlee and his response:
An unassuming tweet about Schlee’s retirement, yet no official announcement made. Not thinking before he writes or speaks, Clive Schlee responds:
On 29. June a very concerned customer tweeted to Schlee about hellish work conditions in a shop where the air conditioning was broken and still not fixed. But the CEO did not respond. He only found time and care to respond to his (still unannounced) retirement:
Early on 01. July 2019 I tweeted the news of Schlee’s retirement to the press after I wrote a blog entry on his legacy. After confirmation from HQ the press then broke the news all over. But I had to tweet to the press again as everyone was fast asleep!
Only then did Clive Schlee as well as Pret make an official announcement of his retirement AND Schlee finally replied to the 29. June 2019 concern of the broken AC:
(A long list of other customer tweets regarding broken air conditioning in many shops for prolonged time I listed here: Overheated Shops / Work Conditions)
Schlee’s response tweet to the well-wisher on his retirement went completely over the heads of the press, except after I tweeted them.
Also on the 01. July 2019 after I posted new blog entries on Pret’s leadership and linked to the new CEO Pano Christou’s Twitter, he deleted his Twitter account @christoupano
But weirdly that day I made a screenshot as Mr. Christou blocked me, while Pret and Schlee didn’t. I am not blocked by Pret and Schlee as they collect my Tweets for a potential court case in the future. Christou who of course is different to Schlee, will most likely steer away from having an online presence as the new CEO. Smart move!
Having run out feet, we can always continue after taking one foot out via the PR machine, and then put it right back in again! There are more issues where Clive Schlee spilled the beans on things, but they are not as interesting to mention here…
In mid July 2019 Clive Schlee has been quickly replaced by Pano Christou on Glassdoor, to avoid further poor results, even though the announcement was that Schlee retires in September 2019. But a customer pointing out the poor results, again only to protect their own skin does Pret under Schlee respond fast! Forget labelling products to safe lives, only label when customer deaths become public, but be fast to make £1000 announcements and disappear from Glassdoor to avoid further cracks in the facade.
And Christou, having come from McDonald’s management and learned under Schlee, he won’t put his foot in his mouth, but he will continue in the same way to maximize profit. Low-wage employees will continue to struggle and the Unions will continue to get them unionized.
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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