Pano Christou – New CEO of Pret A Manger

I have already “introduced” the new CEO of Pret A Manger on a blog post in July 2019: Under New Management, but want to expand a little with the background of Tweets and blog entries.

First of all, the latest review on Pret’s London Head Office from a current employee at the time of reviewing on Indeed:

00 2910-10-21 HQ Bullies

Link

And a 2017 review on HQ from an IT Analyst on Glassdoor:

It Analyst HQ Head Office Review

Link

Las Vegas

Link

17 Odd

Review by former Purchasing Director, NY

01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY

2017-05-26 Pure Misery

Link

01 Brutal Nightmare

YouTube

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

“I hate Pret” group on facebook.com/preth8ers

A customer in chicago commenting about a Pret staff who died, then making a general comment on Pret:

2017 Chicago Pret horrible company to work for2

A former Manager 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret:

2012-07-23 Ex GM

Times

The Times article and photo

Amy

Undercover report by Amy Sharpe, Sunday Mirror photo

2018-06-13 Hellhole - RVW21022161

Link

2019-10-23 Terrible Hiring Useless people

23. Oct. 2019

Above comments and articles are only a fraction of a long list of staff reviews and complaints. For an extensive, yet not exhaustive list please visit: Pret Staff Complaints (list needs to be updated, I stopped in August 2019).

UPDATE: 28. October 2019

A very, very common occurrence in Pret by managers who bully their staff, but this time a customer witnessed this, which normally happens behind the scenes in the office, kitchen and staff rooms:

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer2

Full text:

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer3

Link to Tweet. The public is still fooled by Pret’s “ethical profile” facade.


For any new reader to my blog, at the bottom of this page is my story in an interview on a podcast based in California.


BACKGROUND

The reader may ask why I write so publicly and bluntly. Apart from having tried internally for 3 years to approach Pret, never sharing publicly what I went through and survived, Pret names, shames and blames shop managers and staff in general, when they fail or are not up to the standards Pret demands from them. Managers are called out amongst all the shops under fear management as well as upper management treating their managers and staff poorly in front of others. A recent review showed this again, and I can verify this:

00 2019-10-03 Chicago OPs yelling Managers crying

Review by a Kitchen & Shop Leader in Chicago, but in London this happens as well, and shops are called out via Head Office emails across the whole company. Sure, shops that do extremely well are also mentioned, but this is about making others jealous to work harder to be on the top and not get called out. This is fear management by the book. So, it’s time for the top senior leadership to be called out after what I’ve survived.

I wrote extensively about Clive Schlee, who since September 2019 has “retired” as CEO of Pret, while remaining in the background as a non-executive Director: → Clive Schlee’s Late Night Girl – Articles

But I want to give some background on how unprofessional Pret A Manger is.

The announcement that Clive Schlee would retire in September 2019 came on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press, having read Schlee’s response to a well-wisher on Twitter the day before. The press then contacted HQ, got the confirmation and started “breaking” the news on Twitter.

Tweet to the Press early morning 01. July 2019:

2019-07-01 ExPretAManger to the press

01. July 2019

“Quiet” Tweet the day before on 30. June 2019, but no official retirement announcement:

2019-06-30 Clive response to well wisher

Link

Clive Schlee being all about himself again, while ignoring a Tweet a day before by a customer on excruciating work conditions (below Tweets).

I responded to the above well-wisher, and later tweeted to the press, as I told someone already months ago that Schlee would sneak out the back door quietly. I wrote about it hinting that this may happen in:

Clive Schlee and Pano Christou” 02. Apr. 2019
@Cliveschlee – Your Soldiers are Tired” 18. June 2019
Where is Clive Schlee?” 20. June 2019
The Difference between Profit and True Wealth” 22. June 2019
You are either the Captain” 30. June blog entry, but before I saw his above Tweet to the well-wisher. This blog entry lead me to check his Twitter when I then saw the well-wisher post on Schlee’s retirement.

Clive Schlee, clumsy again and all being about himself, responded to the well-wisher’s Tweet on 30. June 2019, yet did NOT respond to a very serious health and safety issue of a customer Tweet on the 29. June 2019. The customer even tweeted twice. Schlee responded on the 01. July 2019 AFTER I wrote new blog entries about his retirement and after the press “broke” the retirement news from my Tweet.

This is Pret A Manger leadership:

2019-06-30 AC

First and Second Tweet to which Schlee responded on 01. July AFTER retirement news broke.
Customer: “It’s shocking they are not supported by decision makers.”
Don’t be shocked, that’s typical Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger!

I did an extra blog entry on the ongoing Air Conditioning issues with over-heated shops that I worked in as well. Many customers tweeted to Pret about this: Pret A Manger Staff work in Over-heated Conditions

The press then being the press, pretending to break the news with some “inside” knowledge, “broke” it after I tweeted to them. That’s why I tweet publicly and not hidden in emails or DMs.

CLIVE SCHLEE’S LEGACY:

… apart from two customer deaths (plus a third nearly fatal allergy reaction), several hospitalized, and all the ignored warnings, before AND after the deaths, he didn’t act until the deaths became public!

In fact, he was even clueless and seemed patronizingly proud to respond as the CEO to an open letter to Pret:

Alicia Turrell Tweet

Link

Large print of the patronizing, almost beguiling and self-absorbed, yet clueless response to the open letter:

»I am sitting in Gatwick Airport waiting to board my flight and I have been reading your discursive open letter to Pret. I must say you do have a charming, self deprecating writing style and it was very gracious of you to mention so many good things about Pret.«

And then he puffs up in the typical psychological Pret style:

»I’m Pret’s CEO.«

And Alicia Turrell is supposed to be impressed that the CEO himself responds to an open letter to Pret. Further in his response:

»You also make your point about allergen information.«

And here’s the bombshell from a CEO of a multi-million (now billion) pound company, that claims to be ethical and caring, and most ridiculously boasting arrogantly to be “doing the right thing naturally“:

»To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how to respond. I think you are telling us to train our staff better. I can’t argue with that. I think you are suggesting we treat allergens more seriously. Again, fair point.«

And then he ends:

»Is there anything else that you would specifically like us to do?«

End of quote.

I need to mention that I worked at Pret when TWO customers died, and not only were we as leaders NOT told about this, the “training” in Pret is always rushed and many have to train themselves in their private (unpaid) time. And we were not trained and there was no urgency after the deaths. We weren’t even informed nor hinted to be more diligent with allergen labelling and informing customers! Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s mum Tanya, tells in an ITV interview of her shock that Pret did absolutely nothing, even after her daughter’s death: YouTube: → Pret A Manger failed to change allergens policy following teenager’s death.

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

Right Thing Naturally

I write extensively about Clive Schlee’s clumsy responses in Foot-in-mouth Disease at Pret A Manger.

His legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

On the bottom 5% compared to other company CEOs:

CLive Schlee ratings scores bottom 5%

Clive Schlee ratings scores bottom 4th out of 5

Link

So, the £1000 PR bribe for staff didn’t fool the staff after all. I write about the timing of Schlee’s £1000-Announcement which came on the day when Schlee and Pret became aware of my blog: Timing of £1000 Announcement.

In mid July 2019 Pano Christou’s “clean” start on Glassdoor came after a person pointed out the poor Glassdoor scores to Pret’s Tweet of Schlee’s retirement:

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

Link

Christou was put on Glassdoor in mid July, even though Schlee’s official retirement was set for September 2019, which was then also tweeted as a final farewell on 20. September 2019.

YET, Schlee remains on Twitter as the CEO of Pret as I write this on 27. October 2019:

2019-10-27 Schlee still CEO

@Cliveschlee‘s Twitter

Pano Christou has been with Pret longer than Clive Schlee, and apart from doing a few things differently, the staff exploitation and low pay will continue. He is no different to Schlee. It’s just a different face on the same profit driven company, now under JAB Holdings that competes with Nestlé for the top spot.

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano

Pano Christou deleted his @ChristouPano Twitter account on 01. July 2019 when I linked to it in “Clive Schlee’s Legacy“, as I had a lot of traffic on my website after having tweeted to the press, and I know that Pret periodically checks my blog and then reacts on Twitter. Christou also blocked me, while Pret and Schlee don’t block me, probably for a potential court case, should I raise a claim again. I explain in my interview at the bottom why I withdrew my Tribunal claim against Pret:

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter

Pano Block


Christou’s handle then lead to a deleted page on 01. July 2019:

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter DELETED

Since mid September 2019 a new Twitter account under the same handle @ChristouPano started. Seems to be from Canada. Someone snatched that handle, and I doubt Pret’s Pano Christou will have an official CEO account like Clive Schlee has.

2019-09-24 New Pano Christou different Twitter

So, Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after my blog entry on Schlee and tweeting to the press. The press then “breaking” the news, I’m certain he visited my blog that day where he saw that I linked to his Twitter account.

Mr. Christou doesn’t have a new official Twitter account as CEO, and Mr. Schlee still has his official Twitter account as CEO of Pret. This, I think is not because he’s clumsy here, I believe this is because many people don’t know that Pret has a new CEO, and knowing Pano, he will stay away from social media and always prefers to stay in the background. His former Twitter account even stated COO “@ Pret” not “@Pret”, as if to distance himself somewhat. Clive Schlee keeps his CEO status on Twitter probably so that when people tweet to him in the assumption he’s still the CEO, he can then pass on to Christou or Pret can respond. Clive doesn’t always check his own emails either and has communicated before that when he needed a break, someone trusted is checking his mail. So, I won’t be surprised if Pano is actually checking Schlee’s account as he can do, being the CEO now. It’s just that they keep fooling the public and don’t play with open cards, as usual.

PRET A MANGER HAS A NEW FOOL

Pano Christou came from McDonald’s management and started in Pret as an Assistant Manager (AM). Even though he likes to portray that he started at the bottom. Sorry, I worked with many AM’s who came from other companies, it’s not for long that they stay at the bottom. AMs work at Pret with a Team Member (TM) uniform for a few weeks or even just days, and then go straight into AM, and in a few months if they aim for it, become General Managers (GM). So, yes he started in shops, but he never was under the intense stress and low pay TMs are subjected to.

He will do things differently of course, as his personality is different, where he doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve or has “foot-in-mouth disease” like Clive Schlee has. But he will be the same in a profit-driven, exploitative company under the new owners, the German Reimann family via JAB Holdings, that aim to topple Nestlé off the throne and expand their wealth.

Christou became UK Managing Director after Andrew Walker left the position and went to other companies, later becoming the CEO of sandwich chain and biggest competition, EAT. until he left in August 2019 when JAB / Pret purchased EAT.

When JAB bought Pret in late 2018, Christou became the COO of Pret, a role that didn’t exist before JAB took over. This already indicated that it was only a question of time before Christou would be CEO of Pret.

When he finally became CEO officially in September 2019, but to avoid further bad scoring for Schlee, already was placed on Glassdoor in mid July, a new UK Managing Director, Clare Clough (former Director of Food and Coffee) was announced mid September, yet no new COO. Clare Clough was also the person who was tasked to face the press in an interview on ITV. She was caught off-guard (at 1:08 minutes into the video) on the fact that if Pret would have taken allergen labelling seriously 3 – 4 years ago, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse would still be alive.

Alicia Turrell who wrote the open letter to Pret with Schlee replying makes a good point again on why Clive Schlee wasn’t interviewed:

2018-11-30 Alicia Turrell on Clare Clough woman allergen

Link

I mention this as well because Clare Clough seems to be more courageous and effective compared to Pano Christou, when he was the UK Managing Director. Clough has already been more visible from the get go as a UK MD compared to Christou.

PANO’S STYLE

It seems that the COO role was just an interim position for Christou to step up to the CEO role. No new announcement has been made on a new COO.

When I worked at Pret, I was a Team Leader for most of the 10 years I worked there. I had access to internal Pret emails, and the main thing I saw Pano doing, apart from being the shadow of Schlee, was sending out emails that seemed to have been like death announcements. He also wrote mainly in the internal Pret magazine for staff and did other email announcements.

I received the news of my brother’s death via a short and sharp email, which among other emailing issues from work, has thrust me into an emailing spree (from my private email account at home, never from Pret’s email accounts, just to clarify that). I talk about this in below audio interview. But when I was a Team Leader and checked the emails in the office, doing the ordering, communicating with other shops and area managers etc. email would come in at times from Pano. These emails started something like, “It’s with great sadness that I have to announce…”

Every time a mail like this started, my heart dropped and I thought, who on earth has died?!

He then went on to write something like, “It’s with great sadness that I have to announce the closure of one of our shops in such-and-such a street/town…”.

Sorry, what?!!!

I remember still being shaken and wobbly reading this, then getting upset! He wrote in such dramatic way about a freaking shop closure as if someone died! None of us low-paid staff cared if Pret lost a few thousand pounds from their millions! Even all the numbers and profits Christou shared, when Pret broke another record of having taken a certain amount of millions per week, we staff plainly didn’t care. Our pay check remained the same for years, we didn’t get a pay-rise except what the Government raised. And the £10 for all staff received for this “achievement” that Pret handed out, or later even worse, ordering a cake per shop for all shops, felt more like an insult than a reward. I remember one colleague saying about the cakes, that it would be better to get nothing than to be served up with a cheap sugar cake for all our hard work. Cakes often ended up hardly eaten, stale in the fridge.

So, Pano Christou will not be on social media, especially with my public confrontation. He will have learned from Clive Schlee’s clumsy social media presence, and avoid being public as much as he can. He will communicate internally and continue to present this shiny PR[et] facade to lure in workers with a slightly higher pay and other incentives. But he will keep them at that level and brainwash them like Pret does best.

But staff will always speak bluntly in anonymity, how reality is behind the facade. And the Unions will continue to unionize employees, and others will start speaking out openly.

»It’s amazing to me how many business leaders separate their employees from their customers/patrons. Your employees are your core target audience to put word-of-mouth out about your organization.« @minmilyjung on Twitter

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints

Staff review: “Bad managemet, always being ‘hounded’.”

Staff review: “Worked into the ground without empathy.”

I continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides.


I worked at Pret A Manger 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.

Interview:

©2019 expret.org

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