Julian Metcalfe’s 1-day Stint on Twitter

There are 2 conditions for which there is no cure:

Foot-in-mouth disease and stupidity. Arrogance is close behind!

So, £210 million man Julian Metcalfe actually had the balls (or one glass of wine too many) to come on Twitter for less than 24 hours and continue his rant in public. I anticipated that he’d delete some Tweets, but that he ran off that quickly was a surprise. Maybe he was drunk when he decided to hit the keyboard so publicly. And probably someone sensible, a certain PR[et] person pulled the plug! Too late Mr. Metcalfe, I’ve made screenshots!

I didn’t screenshot all of his contradicting Tweets, just the ones where he retweeted my Tweets and those that confirm how utterly uncaring, self-serving and arrogantly detached from reality this man is.

His first Tweet yesterday, 30.10.2020:

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His second, follow-up Tweet confirms his comment to the Daily Mail of his survival-of-the-fittest mentality: “we cannot put forth the needs of the few over those of the many.”

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For anyone who still hasn’t heard, this is what Metcalfe said to the Daily Mail in response to UK’s second lock-down:

»Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’, adding: ‘Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people

Link to Daily Mail article.

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After his first two Tweets which are NOT an apology, his third Tweet goes straight into HIS priorities, desperately trying to divert from his disastrous comments, mind you he NEVER apologized but re-emphasized his comments:

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My third Tweet to him where I wondered how long he will last on Twitter given that current Pret CEO Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account in July 2019 (after he blocked me) and former CEO Clive Schlee’s account was deleted in July 2020. I didn’t expect Metcalfe to quit that fast though. Quite something that a peasant little “late night girl” like me can bring THREE multi-million £ CEOs to quit Twitter!

Pano Christou’s Twitter account where he blocked me:

His Twitter account before he deleted it, his handle is now taken by another Pano Christou from Canada:

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And his page on 01. July 2019 before another Pano Christou took that handle:

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CEO Pano Christou is “hiding” on Linkedin where customers and low-wage staff most likely don’t mingle to confront him like they do on Twitter. Pano learnt from Clive Schlee’s Twitter mistakes. But Julian Metcalfe dug his grave on Twitter yesterday.

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And to my surprise Metcalfe started to retweet a number of my Tweets, especially after I linked him the Glassdoor reviews of his staff.

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After I linked him the Glassdoor reviews of accusations of him being sexist, a bully, creating panic etc., he really dared to respond with this:

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And his claim that his staff “begged” him for zero hour contracts is so disgusting, I’m still trying to find words …

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To which I responded:

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And a few other Tweets he posted. But the one that topped it for me is:

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If THAT Tweet didn’t put the nail in his coffin, I don’t know what will.

Now either Metcalfe didn’t know who I am, or he approached my Tweets in his lofty way assuming he can just pull his sexist, patronizing number on me before being educated and urged to stop. He deleted some of his Tweets and later his account.

One of his Tweets I didn’t screenshot where he said that the Daily Mail took his comment out of context. My question which he never responded to of course:

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Keep tweeting Mr. Metcalfe. Keep tweeting.

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I tweeted to him a thread of staff reviews on Glassdoor that were posted at different dates, as he says that reviews are biased and can be written by anyone anonymously. That’s a fair point, but then the positive reviews can be biased, too. It works both ways if it was the case of fake reviews. Here are only the few reviews from 2018 – 2020 I troubled myself to post to him as screenshots, in no particular order.

I linked to the list of those reviews. Press ctrl & + (plus sign) to enlarge the images:

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Concerning staff “begging” him for zero hour contracts:

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The founder. The biggest con. An irrational bully who uses intimidation and lies to get his own way.” …

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UPDATE:

Julian Metcalfe has a second Twitter account as @JulianMetcalfe_. It’s not clear if he started this simultaneously or before/after his @JulianEMetcalfe account was opened AND closed in one day. I doubt he’ll return to continue spreading his thoughts minus an apology. But it’s always worth a try.

Link

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I listened to a BBC interview of Metcalfe where by his own admission he said (at about 19:18 or with the interviewer’s question from about 18:40 on) that he wasn’t a good employee and that he was quite disobedient.

Need to be registered/logged in to the BBC to hear the interview. He plays stupid a lot in that interview, but I hope his low-wage staff who are exploited for his net worth of £210 million, hear this his words and show him the finger. I lost even further respect for Metcalfe. Spoiled, privileged prat!

Link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000l7k5

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LINK of my Tweets to Mr. Metcalfe, scrolling down to the bottom where I started.

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LINK to some of the reviews on Metcalfe himself.

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Article on Julian Metcalfe’s connection to Pret and why Pret can’t distance themselves from Metcalfe.

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And just as a reminder what Metcalfe said to the Daily Mail days ago:

»Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’, adding: ‘Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people.«

Link to Daily Mail

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And regarding Pret A Manger’s treatment of staff, just a few of the many staff reviews I put on a YouTube slide. I listed many more complaints on Pret’s bullying culture on “Caught in the Act at Pret A Manger“.

Best viewed on FULL screen:

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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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org


Interview:

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Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Julian Metcalfe and Pret A Manger Today

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Just when I thought nothing more straining than cancelling a trip to see family and new lock-down restrictions in Europe can wear me out, this happens:

Link to Daily Mail article from yesterday

Quote:
»Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’, adding: ‘Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people

And I thought former Pret CEO Clive Schlee’s foot-in-mouth disease was already bad enough! This tops it! So, Pret’s had it all, they even managed to have not 1 but 2 customers die, the WORST event that can happen in a business, and they got away with it. They feel invincible. And now having words visible that, who knows, may have been spoken out behind closed doors in Pret, itsu etc.


After a public outcry, not heard since customer deaths came to light, Pret has now distanced themselves from Pret RE-founder Julian Metcalfe.

I don’t want to post all the Tweets of countless people here, but just what itsu staff say about Metcalfe himself and what Pret A Manger staff say about Pret.

But here’s Pret’s repeated copy & paste response to the outcry that started last night (28.10.2020):

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Link

UPDATE: Yet Pret started to remove the protector screens from the till counters. So far to “we must take steps to stop the spread…”

Link

Link

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Some customers believe the few sentences and come to Pret’s defense, but people aren’t stupid.

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And I want to point out again to all the many people on social media who settle for three sentences from Pret’s social media team, that what Julian Metcalfe said to the press, and with it to the public, is JUST visible now to what itsu, Pret A Manger and many, many other big chains have acted upon all along.

A little crash course on the very close and lasting connection of Pret and itsu, and why Metcalfe’s words are not surprising. Pret may distance themselves from Metcalfe, but Pret, itsu, Metcalfe, former CEO Clive Schlee, current CEO Pano Christou … are a close-knit group of friends and business people working towards one goal only: profit and making shareholders happy.

Please do your homework because I am tired of linking everything to every word I post!

Clive Schlee is very close friends with Julian Metcalfe and got the Pret CEO job from him 18 odd years ago. Clive Schlee owns half of itsu and is on the board of directors of itsu. Schlee also remains in the background of Pret as a non-executive director, being new CEO Pano Christou’s mentor. Clive Schlee snuck out almost quietly from Pret as the CEO, after he ignored multiple warnings on allergen labelling and did NOTHING after TWO customers died. Only when the deaths became public did he slowly start to label. This is how much a life, let alone more lives are worth for Pret.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s mum is in disbelief on Pret’s lack of action, from about 0:20 seconds on:

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Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted the news of Clive Schlee’s retirement to the press. Schlee’s Twitter account was closed this year in July 2020.

Pano Christou is “hiding” on Linkedin where mostly Caucasian, upper middle class business people mingle, and where he has his “yes-men” applauding him in everything he posts. Customers and low-wage workers don’t complain on Linkedin, so he’s safe there from public confrontation.

Pret can distance themselves all they want, what Julian Metcalfe has said publicly, Pret has lived and is living practically!

Pret was one of THE FIRST to cut employee hours in March just before lock-down.

Pret used NHS workers for PR and a smokescreen, giving freebies and 50% rebates to NHS staff and the very next day announced to staff that their hours will be cut. Pret diverted via the NHS freebie PR, but they got caught and reverted until a few months later when close to 3000 people were fired.

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Link

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Pret was one of THE first high-street food chain to open shops DURING lock-down in April 2020.

Pret was THE ONLY food place open (at least) on Stansted airport in July 2020. Only Boots and WH Smiths were open, all the other brands incl. Burger King, Starbucks, hell even itsu remained closed! Here the video:

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Here’s a quality Tweet that reaches back into Julian Metcalfe’s history. Them Tweets don’t come like that every day. Someone did their homework.

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Oh so simple to just go to Wikipedia …

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What itsu staff say about Julian Metcalfe himself:

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Link

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etc. etc.

And here are some of the many Pret A Manger staff reviews. A more comprehensive but not exhaustive list of Pret staff raising their voice on review sites regarding systemic bullying and exploitation I listed on “Caught in the Act at Pret A Manger“.

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The following video slide is just a small selection. More on “Caught in the Act at Pret A Manger“.

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UPDATE

30. October 2020, 6:30pm

Metcalfe started a Twitter account, respect for facing the music. But this may dig his grave even further. Read his opposing first Tweets:

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Link

And his third Tweet is going straight back to HIS priorities:

And then later after he retweeted some of my Tweets in response to my criticism of him, he tweets this and continues to show his true face, blaming the public:

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Before he deleted his Twitter account again he also confirmed several times that former Pret CEO Clive Schlee (who owns half of itsu & is still in the background of Pret) and Pret are his “dear friends”:

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I responded to above Tweet that Clive was so heart broken that he did NOT act whatsoever on TWO customer deaths until this became public.

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I wrote a blog post on 31.10.2020 on Metcalfe’s Tweets as he deleted his Twitter account after less than being 24 hours on Twitter. I made screenshots because I anticipated him deleting Tweets.

Link to post: “Julian Metcalfe’s 1-Day Stint on Twitter.”

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UPDATE:

I listened to a BBC interview of Metcalfe where by his own admission he said (at about 19:18 or with the interviewer’s question from about 18:40 on) that he wasn’t a good employee and that he was quite disobedient.

Need to be registered/logged in to the BBC to hear the interview. He plays stupid a lot in that interview, but I hope his low-wage staff who are exploited for his net worth of £210 million, hear this his words and show him the finger. I lost even further respect for Metcalfe. Spoiled, privileged prat!

Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000l7k5

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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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.


Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org
Interview:

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Pret A Mourir — Stasi-like Surveillance at Pret A Manger

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I found a brilliant article on Pret’s enforced emotional labour practices. This article is next to Timothy Noah’s article “Labor of Love – The Enforced Happiness of Pret A Manger” my favourite article on this subject. Having worked at Pret experiencing this abuse as I call it, I more than underline both articles. I’m grateful for true journalism compared to the majority of media people sucking up to Pret.

The article is from 2011 but worth the read to take a peek behind Pret’s smiley facade. Some of the things mentioned, like “shooting stars” and other brainwashing, micromanaging things Pret has stopped now, especially since private equity came in, wanting faster money than already squeezed out of low-wage staff.

Link to the text below: Pret A Mourir

By Rob Horning

I borrowed the title for this post from my friend Anton of Generation Bubble, who forwarded me a link to this NYT article by Stephanie Clifford about Pret à Manger, sort of the Target of sandwich shops, assuming Subway is the Wal-Mart. If you want to see a horrific application of all the principles of immaterial and affective labor, Virnoesque virtuosity, lateral surveillance, obligatory reflexivity, emotional management, gamification and so on, you need look no further.

How does any company encourage teamwork? At Pret a Manger, executives say, the answer is to hire, pay and promote based on — believe it or not — qualities like cheerfulness.

There is a certain “Survivor” element to all of this. New hires are sent to a Pret a Manger shop for a six-hour day, and then the employees there vote whether to keep them or not. Ninety percent of prospects get a thumbs-up. Those who are voted out are sent home with £35 ($57), no hard feelings.

The crucial factor is gaining support from existing employees. Those workers have skin in the game: bonuses are awarded based on the performance of an entire team, not individuals. Pret workers know that a bad hire could cost them money.

All the joys of tournament labor markets like those that exist in academia, with none of the “life of the mind” rationalizations. And instead of solidarity against management, each worker becomes the face of management, another Stasi spy for the happy police.

But that is not nearly enough surveillance to allow Pret’s management to discriminate among workers:

Pret also sends “mystery shoppers” to every shop each week. Those shoppers give employee-specific critiques. (”Bill didn’t smile at the till,” for instance.) If a mystery shopper scores a shop as “outstanding” — 86 percent of stores usually qualify — all of the employees get a £1-per-hour bonus, based on a week’s pay, so full-timers get around $73. “There’s a lot of peer pressure,” said Andrea Wareham, the human resources director at Pret.

DARE sessions in school taught me that peer pressure was bad, but I suppose peer pressure, in this context, is good. It is the vaunted power of worker collaboration and cooperation turned inside out and made into a coercive management tool. One’s very ability to get along with others is alienated and quantified, made into something you would only do for money rather than from basic human solidarity. Pret rejects the sort of human sociality that might thrive outside of capital, that is possible in environments where making a profit by selling commodified service experiences isn’t the overriding goal. Instead Pret chooses to incentivize human feeling and turn the point of exchange into an explicit, quantified moment of affective labor while turning worker cooperation into a reified shadow of itself. That policy is carried out all down the line, apparently, with no sociality left unincentivized and thus unexploited:

Pret reinforces the teamwork concept in other ways. When employees are promoted or pass training milestones, they receive at least £50 in vouchers, a payment that Pret calls a “shooting star.” But instead of keeping the bonus, the employees must give the money to colleagues, people who have helped them along the way.

There are other rewards. Every quarter, the top 10 percent of stores, as ranked by mystery-shopper scores, receive about £30 per employee for a party. The top executives at Pret get 60 “Wow” cards, with scratch-off rewards like £10 or an iPod, to hand out each year to employees who strike them as particularly good. Pret has all-staff parties twice a year, and managers get a monthly budget of £100 or so to spend on drinks or outings for their workers.

“Rewards, through bonuses or ‘outstanding’ cards, affect behavior,” Ms. Wareham says.

Wow cards, I suppose, are the Scooby snacks of the service industry. It’s always nice to be recognized, but there seems to be something backhanded about making even that a lottery scenario. And in the end, it’s just Pavlovian manipulation, not genuine recognition of the worker as a human. The incentivizing of feeling leaves no space for the employees to be recognized in and of themselves. Everything about them as feeling creatures has been subsumed by the wage relation. That’s what is so creepy about going into a Pret — you know they are being forced to be nice to you and are being carefully watched by other fake-nice bosses and informers. It feels like those moments in movies about people in a mental asylum, where the patients try to maintain a facade of controlled politeness in hopes of demonstrating their newfound sanity. This sounds sort of insane to me, anyway:

Every new employee gets a thick binder of instructions. It states, for example, that employees should be “bustling around and being active” on the floor, not “standing around looking bored.” It encourages them to occasionally hand out free coffee or cakes to regulars, and not “hide your true character” with customers.

Can a boss really force you to display your “true character” without driving you into an insane spiral of endlessly recursive reflexivity? And is one’s “true character” nothing more than picking random lottery-winner customers to hand a cake to? Are human interactions so conditioned by the imperative of exchange that giving and getting something for nothing is the best way to simulate genuineness, or sincere benevolence? Perhaps the looting in London was just a big expression of love.

The article should put to rest any ideas that the implementation of such concepts as gamification and the general intellect are inherently benevolent or subversive. Instead, they can be deployed by management to create a kind of affective Taylorism, where emotional experiences are assembled under hurry-up conditions and energetically concealed duress. Unless you believe that it’s more fun to be forced to pretend to be having fun while working a deli counter — maybe the findings that people who are forced to smile report being happier apply here also. Clifford notes that Pret’s “annual work force turnover rate is about 60 percent — low for the fast-food industry, where the rate is normally 300 to 400 percent.” Stockholm Syndrome is a powerful management tool.

The emotional labor being extracted from Pret employees exemplifies the way tight labor markets give employers the chance to cement expectations of a more pliant disposition from workers. The new normal is a grotesque sycophancy sugarcoated as a fun, cheerful workplace where “teamwork” rules. In an email, Anton says Pret’s approach elicits an “unprecedented self-relation — instrumentalization of mood and affect as a way of producing surplus value. It can only end in a psychotic break.” I’m inclined to agree.


I’ve put a YouTube slide together with a real Mystery Shopper report where a staff member received £100 for giving the Mystery Shopper a freebie, while the whole shop staff lost bonus because there was some selection of products missing.

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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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org
Interview:

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Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Former CEO of Pret A Manger Clive Schlee

has withdrawn from public social media incl. deleting his Twitter account in July 2020 after I kept confronting him. He withdrew from press interviews and remains in the background of Pret as a non-executive director and mentor of Pano Christou. I call Christou Panocchio as he lied in an Evening Standard interview and beyond. Clive will be back to tell his sorry story after I kept and keep confronting his lack of leadership and steering Pret full steam ahead into an iceberg.

Clive, I will never stop addressing your lack of leadership which shows in your prodigy Panocchio, until you own up to your greed and exploiting those who are the true heroes of this economy.

Clive, you, HR and the OPs/Group Managers picked on the wrong person. You got away with customers having died and getting injured. You get away with amazing people being exploited and bullied. You just about got away from allowing me to get bullied after I buried my brother. But the conversation of Pret’s toxic ways will go beyond me raising it. Keep working on your story, and others will tell theirs.

And this is your legacy, Schlee. And mainstream media suck up to you because they are as weak as you are. We low-wage workers are vulnerable, but we ain’t weak.


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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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:


Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.


©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

The Pret A Manger Tränendrüse

A very clever Pret A Manger marketing strategy with the help of mainstream media.

The best translation for “Tränendrüse” I can find is “tear jerker”, but I’d rather go with “crocodile tears”. It’s a word that came to me when I pondered on the recent Pret A Manger articles in the New York Times and The Guardian regarding Pret’s dealing with the Covid 19 crisis. Mainstream media journalists play into Pret’s pocket as usual. What I found particularly interesting are the photos that were shot and used for these articles, especially in the Guardian article.

In the German when someone tries to get pity in order to gain or get advantage of something, we say “der drückt auf die Tränendrüse”, loosely translated “someone’s squeezing out tears” … or best translated: producing crocodile tears.

Pret A Manger has always been smart in their marketing strategy, giving free coffees to look generous while it’s been the main marketing strategy to get people into shops spending more money. I write about the freebie marketing in detail on my blog: Pret A Manger Free Coffees.

Another clever move has always been to give vouchers and freebies after customers complain. Pret customer service staff call this to “kill people with kindness”. That way they stop complaints going further, getting people off their backs and winning them over, plus new customers, as people do free advertisement on social media and beyond on Pret’s “kindness” and “generosity”. And also since 2018 the new endeavor to collect customer data via social media DMs and now subscriptions for future marketing.

The first “Tränendrüse” article came from The Guardian and how new CEO Pano Christou is approaching this rather “positive”, seeing Covid as a chance. Never mind hundreds of thousands having lost their lives, their loved ones, their health, their jobs, their livelihoods … The tragedy turned into a strategy for Pano Christou. A tragedy that now hit millions of people worldwide is being used by Christou as a “strategy” for business. He even takes it further and puts on a sorry, but determined face, to persuade the loyal British higher middle class customer to feel sorry for Pret and risk their own lives to “save Pret”.

By the way, the term as in Pret having become the “Symbol of the Highstreet” came from me on Twitter after some people wondered why Pret is being mentioned constantly to save the economy. Journalists took that and wrote their own articles on it. My blog has become the source for lazy journalism’s copy & paste writing. Nothing new under the sun.

Link to 29. August 2020 Tweet

Link to 31. August 2020 Tweet … and many more on Twitter before Journos took that term from September 2020 onward.

The reader can go through the Guardian and New York Times articles to scrutinize the marketing strategy here. I want to draw the attention to the photos being used for Pret’s subtle and gentle, smiley “propaganda” to get customers to spend money.

From The Guardian, photo by David Yeo:

Pano Christou sitting in the shadow in front of half empty shelves … alone … looking out somewhere into uncertainty … his Tränendrüse about to burst, yet looking with hope like a puppy trusting to get what those who hold the treats in their pockets are ready to give.

Aw! Cute puppy!

The puppy’s promise behind to his right, with the false advertisement of “endless” drinks on the monthly coffee subscription (I write about the false advertisement in detail on “Smoothie Operator“). And the intense shadow of his (seemingly) sorry self behind him with a high wall overwhelming him with the shadow of challenge-turned-opportunity … Puppy Christou looks hopeful. After all, smiling is Pret’s main marketing strategy. Smile through the crisis, smile through grief, smile through mental health issues, smile through Pret customers having died, smile through it all … and keep smiling to the bank.

Link to The Guardian article and photos by David Yeo.

Link to NY Times article and photo by Tom Jamieson.

No shadows here, just a look of getting hit by the pandemic, but determined somehow, yet disappointed and clueless what to do like a little puppy that’s still waiting for its treat and strokes. Mixed view here, left open for interpretation.

The NY Times article is titled as “Pret A Manger Will Try Anything to Survive”

Yet, what exactly is Pret doing? Anything? How is Pret turning a deadly virus into opportunity?

Sacking 3000+ people is one opportunity where Pret does anything to survive, while owners JAB in tax-haven Luxembourg via second richest secretive German family Reimann, sit on billions. Sure, they lost a few billions as well. A recent German article in the Handelsblatt dishes out the numbers.

Some more numbers in bullet points:

  • Pret A Manger front-line employee under £10 per hour, below the Living Wage, not paid for sickness the first 2-3 days depending on age and length of service no matter if having a GP sick-note.
  • JAB/Reimann 2019 worth estimated 25€ billion.
  • 2018 Pret’s annual turnover £710 million which steadily increased into 2020 before lock-down.
  • JAB/Reimann donate $11 million (~ £9.5m) to charity over Nazi past.
  • JAB/Reimann pay former CEO Clive Schlee £30 million on BONUS upon acquisition of Pret. And here it’s clear where their priorities lie. £10m in “repairs” to Jewish charity versus £30m for ONE man alone in Bonus! Well, Pret is doing ANYTHING to survive.
  • etc. etc.

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Link to Daily Mail article.

The “few” millions Pret loses and the billions JAB loses hardly crack any teeth in their unsatisfied, hungry jaws! They can EASILY afford to keep their workers and INVEST by doing ANYTHING they can to “survive”.

Yet, Pret will not only survive, Pret will thrive again. And in order to thrive and keep accumulating millions and billions, Pret needs to cut at the bottom and “sacrifice” those who already lose everything anyway.

Hardly is JAB/Reimann nor Pret struggling. Pret even was one of THE FIRST companies to try and cut hours of low-wage workers back in March. What was so vile was that Pret announced the cuts a day after starting the NHS coffee freebie and 50% food rebate to NHS workers to divert away from the cuts. Pret used NHS staff two-fold, PR of course and as a smoke screen to hide how Pret really treat their own employees DURING a pandemic, let alone in general. And this was pre-lockdown and at the start of the pandemic becoming obvious to us all. I also write about this extensively in “To NHS Employees” after I was contacted by Pret employees with the news of Pano Christou’s email to all shops about the cuts. I then immediately tweeted to the press and all hell broke loose resulting in Pret to revert the cut decision for a while until the big job cuts were announced in July 2020 after I was leaked a video by a Pret staff … and so it keeps continuing with doing “anything” to survive.

Link to Tweet by an NHS worker.

Pret has also been one of THE FIRST businesses to open shops DURING lock-down and was THE ONLY business open at Stansted airport in July 2020 when ALL food outlets (apart from Boots and WH Smiths) remained closed.

Pret open at Stansted July 2020

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Another clever strategy Pret seems to be using is to close 6 more shops now (October 2020) after the 30 shops they closed already. Now laying off 400 more employees (400 staff of 6 shops?). This puts pressure on the Tränendrüse of loyal customers who feel extra sorry for Pret now. Yet, many fail to see the strategy behind this. Pret CAN afford to stay open! Pret CAN afford to keep people employed! And mark my words (today 17. October 2020) that in a short while Pret WILL OPEN shops again. It takes just a few days for Pret to set-up a new shop! Even on Twitter the Job-center is advertising for new Barista etc. opportunities in Pret. Closing 6 shops is nothing for Pret. They will open in a heartbeat when grass has grown over this drama of pushing on the tears of customers’ purses.

Pre-pandemic, the average low-wage worker earned £8.65 an hour. If the shops did well with Mystery Shoppers, they earned an extra £1 but all still BELOW the Living Wage.

Now Pret has cut jobs, hours, benefits, bonus and even paid break. I’m sure Pano has lost count on his millions sitting in his bank account, being busy putting people out of jobs, some of whom will lose everything.

Pret always prides itself to pay a little more than the competition with the brainwashing psychology and their slogan of: “Pay people what you can afford, not what you can get away with”. And yet, Pret fails to mention that 1. staff have to work DOUBLE for it and 2. it takes YEARS to get a pay-rise in Pret! It is Pret luring low-wage workers in with a few pennies more from the start of employment, and then they have to labour for years to earn a few more peanuts. Staff chase that carrot just to be left high and dry. The backbreaking work that I have done and witnessed hardworking colleagues, is not worth the peanuts that Pret claims to be what they can afford. By the time a regular Pret worker is ready for promotion or a pay-rise, they are so exhausted and disheartened, they don’t even have the strength to look nor find a new job.

Link to Indeed review. of a Manager.

Staff get so worn out, they stay in Pret for years because they have no strength to move on. I write extensively about the reality of Pret A Manger behind the smiley facade in “Caught in the Act at Pret A Manger” with its systemic bullying culture that Pret top leadership were involved in my own ordeal.

So while former CEO Clive Schlee is in the background as a non-executive Director, quietly being Pano Christou’s mentor, puppy Pano pushes on the Tränendrüse with the help of big newspapers to squeeze even more pity and money out of customers who fail yet again to support the small independent businesses that really suffer to the point of losing their livelihoods.

So, you mainstream journalists from the New York Times, The Guardian and others, keep sucking up to Pret and wipe their crocodile tears. Nothing new under the sun.

God help us if we aren’t screwed enough yet, we love to get screwed some more by multinational private equity leeches.

Just a few of the countless reviews by Pret employees on various sites.

P.S Here’s a visual of Puppy Christou howling on the belly of mainstream media with a shadow and all the pity he needs. DO feel sorry for this puppy, they need money:


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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

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