The Dangers of Non-Existent Leadership – #PretAManger


»CEOs have their employees suffer for them. But yet, the CEO’s pay goes up and up and up… and so many people are left behind. I’m here to tell you: No more! It’s not right! It’s never been right!«

Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani


I’ve posted Hamdi Ulukaya’s TED Talk from which I took above quote on the “Anti-CEO Playbook“, which is worth watching for anyone who is tired of today’s profit-over-people driven global business ventures. It CAN and MUST be done differently! I’ve also written many posts on Clive Schlee’s “leadership” in Pret A Manger, like for example the Timing of the £1000 Announcement to all staff on Twitter on 29. May 2018, which came after he and Pret became aware of my blog in the night from 28th to 29th May 2018. But I want to pull some things together into one post again as I feel people still don’t get it!

I used to be your typical good citizen (and I still am!), working hard, keeping my head down, loyal come rain come shine, doing things by the book with all my shortcomings and down falls as well. I was your average employee. No, I was more. I always gave 150%. But I equally was lulled in and brainwashed by this Pret PR machine and a smiley, approachable CEO. Until they crossed so many boundaries that I, in an utter traumatized state endured. It took me distance to understand what happened to me. For any new reader, my full story is in the audio player interview at the bottom of this page.

Apart from what I have survived in Pret and collected in other staff reviews, it is beyond me how easily society today remains lulled in, blinded in the acceptance of how business is done today. People are comfortable with a business EVEN after 2 customers died from their products, and a third nearly fatal reaction.

I should be stopping right here in this post, as the ultimate terrible thing that can happen to any business is customers dying from that business’ product or service! And in Pret TWO customers died. Yet, after the initial outrage, everyone goes back to business, and the chaos behind the scenes continues without any consequences for that company!


While I worked at Pret, and even before my brother died when all the nightmare began, I always wondered why in shop after shop the management is so poor with just very few exceptions. There is a bullying environment I looked over as everyone was treated bad, except those who kissed up to leadership for quick promotion. But I tried to ignore the environment and kept going. Yet, I always knew in my heart that the “fish stinks from its head” and if a company has poor management skills across the board, it comes from the top down.

Clive Schlee’s management style is very simple: It’s a “good cop, bad cop” approach. He’s the good cop who pretends to not realize what’s going on when staff complain about the bad cop managers in their shops. But all cops have one thing in mind: profit, profit, profit and squeeze the maximum “productivity” out of employees until there’s nothing left to squeeze. And when they’re dried up and burnt out, they are discarded like broken machines! Clive Schlee is one of those leaders who doesn’t like to hire and fire, he leaves that to the firing squat called the HR department, who in turn let the Operations Team do the firing.


Responsibility is handed down through the ranks to the bottom. A typical cowardliness leadership style. It’s like the captain of a ship that jumps ship first when it sinks, instead of doing the courageous and principled thing that a true Captain is supposed to do. I distinguish these two “captains” by a capital letter. A true Captain gets passengers and crew off the ship first, starting with the most vulnerable, and then as the Captain, he leaves the ship at the very end when EVERYONE is off the boat!

But in Pret A Manger the typical “leadership” style is, that the captain, the top leadership saves their skin first and blames downward, or in the words of Hamdi Ulukaya again:

»CEOs have their employees suffer for them … and so many people are left behind.«

The most recent example of this is Pano Christou. With all the press regarding the allergen deaths and my blog being a sore in Clive Schlee’s sight, the announcement of his “retirement” (he’s 60!) was made AFTER I tweeted to the press on 01. July (I explain in detail here) and the press then contacting HQ for confirmation. Pano Christou becomes the new CEO in September. But since Clive Schlee leaves a legacy of poor staff reviews on Glassdoor & Co. what does he do? He does what he does best: he passes the buck downward and let’s Pano Christou already appear in mid July on Glassdoor.

A customer pointed out the poor Glassdoor scoring on 01. July 2019 when the retirement announcement was tweeted. So, Schlee must have arranged for Christou to take over on Glassdoor before the official September handover:

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

Link to Tweet


Las Vegas



2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive


Both percentages of Schlee and now Christou are from the mid July 2019 handover on Glassdoor. The £1000 “bribe” and marketing didn’t help cover over the reality of work in Pret.


2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano


Again, instead of owning up he quickly passes the buck to the next in line. Pano Christou having come from McDonald’s management (one of the biggest exploitative companies) and started in Pret in management, he learned under Schlee.

And this is clever as well because Christou starting from zero, once he gets let’s say the first 10 votes and 7 out of the 10 are positive, he will be at 70% approval rate in no time, making it look like he’s the great CEO. New viewers, especially those from other countries who are completely new to Pret assume Pret has great senior management in place. But he will continue under the “CEO Playbook” that Hamdi Ulukaya adequately criticizes and works on to reform, having a McDonald’s background and having been longer in Pret than Clive Schlee. He will make no difference, but will continue under the same facade. And this is very typical Pret, tweaking, tricking, covering up instead of really caring. It’s just regular millionaires who only care to advance their wealth.

A quick reminder of what Pret staff experience and mainly voice in anonymity:


17 Odd

Review by former Purchasing Director, NY


01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY


2017-05-26 AM NYC Pure Misery

Assistant Manager NY 2017


HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review


2014-12-26 NY

2014 New York


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+ More recent reviews:


The above slideshows are just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints


A poignant truth someone wrote on a Twitter feed. Worth reading the whole feed:

»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.«

 – by @minmilyjung

Out of my own experience and my former colleagues’ complaints to me as their Team Leader, I was at least lucky enough to be in a position to stand up for them as their Leader, but my and their experiences topped with the way Pret dealt with the customer deaths, shows so frighteningly how reckless and dangerous this kind of “leadership” style is.

“Leadership”, that I can only put in quotation marks, that refuses to take responsibility, blames downwards, passes the buck to the next in line, and then has the audacity to remain as a non-executive Director in the background! I can only boil it down to narcissistic arrogance which shows when Clive Schlee, only thinking about himself, ignores a serious customer complaint on behalf of staff on Twitter!

Customer complaint on 29. June 2019 about hellish work conditions in a shop:

2019-06-30 AC

First and Second Tweet to which Schlee responded on 01. July AFTER retirement news broke. (A long list of customer complaints regarding overheated shops with broken air conditioning and the hellish work conditions staff are left in).

On 30. June 2019, Schlee’s response to a farewell regarding his retirement, but no official retirement announcement until I tweeted to the press on 01. July (after I tweeted this to the press I got shadow banned and then the press started “breaking” the news on Twitter). Clive Schlee’s response to Neil here came AFTER the above customer, Kirk tweeted TWICE to Schlee about broken air conditioning:

2019-06-30 Clive response to well wisher

Link Clive Schlee being all about himself again, while ignoring TWO Tweets a day before by a customer on excruciating work conditions! I’m sure he didn’t realize that he spilled the beans again unintentionally regarding his non-caring about the welfare of his hardworking employees!


In the U.S. it would hail a storm of lawsuits on Pret with one customer death being enough to sue the living daylights out of them! One customer already unsuccessfully sued Pret in New York in 2016 after having suffered an anaphylactic shock ALSO from an unlabelled Sesame product. He was devastated when he learned of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s anaphylactic shock, leading to her death from an unlabelled Sesame product ALSO in 2016! He fought in court, but lost.

This lawsuit wasn’t a hint enough for Pret to do the right thing labelling their products! And then even AFTER TWO customer deaths Pret STILL didn’t do the right thing UNTIL the deaths became public! Only THEN did SLOW change happen. I cover this and their inconsistency in “Pret’s Labelling Commitment?” with their appalling and infamous slogans.

“It’s what makes Pret, Pret”!!




HR department logo:

Right Thing Naturally


So, this is the UK, no lawsuits.


Politically correct.


Complacent, inefficient, indifferent and arbitrarily dangerous for people’s health and lives.



And Pret is very quick to change the shop signage of their 350+ stores in the UK for Pride month, while not acting on allergen labelling on their products until customer deaths became public.

Pret Signage

@celestine__ on Twitter

Customer deaths don’t make people wake up, certainly staff complaints, staff deaths and suicides don’t wake people up. No lawsuits. No investigations. A society full of indifferent people that only cares for a free cookie. We all know that the opposite of care and love is not hate, but indifference.

I despair at this.

And perhaps it mainly takes CEOs who are also the founders of their companies to care enough to make a difference. Most CEOs these days are just “managers” who were given the rod to the flock, and thus they don’t have concerns for what they were entrusted with. They then open the door to the wolves of private equity. And the suffering gets out of control with the “managers” sneaking out the back door, when the “slaughter” gets too bloody and the managers are in danger of getting cut.


Times report

The Times article


But I want to end on a positive note, another hopeful, courageous and principled CEO, whose words are blunt but much needed, and like Hamdi Ulukaya, a Captain with a capital “C”:

»To sell my business, this thing that I created, that I poured my life, 30 years of work in; to sell it to one of those bastards (venture capitalists), it would feel like selling one of my children into prostitution. And I was never gonna do it.«

Guy Singh-Watson
Founder and CEO of employee-owned Riverford


A list of blog entries I wrote regarding Clive Schlee: “Late Night Girl Articles


Riverford and Chobani scores June/July 2019 on Glassdoor

Riverford Chobani



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Pano Christou now CEO of Pret A Manger


My message to Clive Schlee and Pano Christou upfront:

»Be careful how you treat people when you’re on your way up, you might need them on the way back down.«

 – found on Twitter profile


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 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 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 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 news from my Tweet.

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, 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 “secretly” in emails.


So, September has come early.

BUT knowing Pret and the poor scoring Clive Schlee leaves on his exit (44% recommend working at Pret and 50% recommend Schlee) he stays as the active CEO until September, but they placed Pano Christou onto Review sites to avoid more negative scoring for the CEO.

2019-07-15 Pano Christou CEO

2 Glassdoor ratings already 15. July 2019 as on 14. July Clive Schlee was still as CEO on the Glassdoor profile. Makes you wonder what two people in the first day rated the new CEO already.


Pano Christou deleted his 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 blog after having tweeted to the press:

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter

Now leads to a deleted page.


So Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press and the press “breaking” the news and having visited my blog where he saw that I linked to his Twitter account.

But as Mr. Christou doesn’t have a new official Twitter account yet as CEO and Mr. Schlee still has his official Twitter account, this means Christou is NOT yet CEO, but just placed his picture on Glassdoor to avoid further negative voting for the CEO and Pret.

BUT Mr. Christou is the same and learned under Schlee. It’s just a different face to the same exploitative and bullying company. And the press is silent, because they cater to business.

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. They 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 pushing, 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. But he will do things the same in a profit-driven, exploitative company under the new owners who aim to topple Nestle off the throne and expand their wealth.

In my worst time in Pret in 2016 when my emailing started to increase in my trauma and at times drunk (I share my story at the bottom audio player in an interview), one email exchange with Pano Christou I remember very well, where he invited staff to contact him with any concerns, ideas etc. He responded and started his message about my email: »I must admit, beautifully written« and then went on in his email.

I remember this as odd, because only an “opponent” or someone who disagrees with you has to “admit” something. If I stand opposite an opponent that I respect, in or after a boxing match let’s say, we fought, I got caught out with not being on my best form, I may say to the opponent: ‘I must admit, good punch!’.

So, Mr. Christou, you will continue where Mr. Schlee left off, all the sweet-talk you learned under him, how to polish the facade, how to exploit low-wage workers behind that smile, but I don’t buy for a minute that Pret’s work conditions will improve nor that you will implement the Living Wage. So, we continue to work on unionizing Pret A Manger, no matter how long it takes.


Clive Schlee’s legacy:

… apart from two customer deaths (third nearly fatal) he didn’t act on until it became public and all the ignored warnings before AND after deaths!

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019


Clive Schlee’s Legacy” — & — “Late Night Girl Article on Clive Schlee


Las Vegas


17 Odd

Review by former Purchasing Director, NY


01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY


HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review


UPDATE 22. July 2019 Pano Christou’s “clean” start on Glassdoor. He’s been with Pret longer than Clive Schlee, and apart from doing a few things differently, when it comes to staff exploitation and low pay etc. he is not different than Schlee, just a different face on the profit driven company now under JAB that competes with Nestle for the top spot:

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano


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


Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

‘Any Damn Fool can run Pret’


Oh no, those are not my words!

These are the words of the wife of Pret A Manger’s current CEO Clive Schlee!

On the question of Pret’s success and how much of it was luck or hard work, the CEO responds:

»We had some very good following winds. My wife always would say ‘any damn fool can run Pret‘.«

I comment on this interview in “Clive Schlee: A Case Study (of the Fun Factory)”

Why would the wife of a CEO keep saying this, what’s the conversation before such a statement?

Let the sweet-talk stop and let the women speak for a change! For real change!

Clive Wife

From a 2016 Guardian interview

And only fools can ruin it!

On a side note, Clive Schlee here continues to say that Pret had “natural” food, even though Pret has been successfully sued for having Glyphosate in the food and having to take the word “natural” off signage and labelling. I write about this in “Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat“.

But this interview is full of @&%!… I can’t believe he keeps getting away with it, and I ask myself what does it take to face the truth away from the delusion?!

The problem with companies that have fools running it is, they may endanger their clients and employees lives. God forbid customers number 1. die, number 2. the company doesn’t do anything until these fatalities become public, and 3. get away with it!

And God forbid that this company gets away with not one, but two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal and numerous hospitalized …

And God forbid even further that staff struggle and suffer, some dying, even by suicide.

And of course who would think that a CEO would sneak out quietly into early retirement, remaining a non-executive Director in the background, working on fixing his reputation with some more charity work and finally reaching out to low-paid workers?

What company would have a fool running its business and ruining a lot of people’s lives?

Good thing the facade of Pret is still in tact! Let the free coffees flow to put the public back to sleep!

That’s all that counts these days.


Legacy of a fool CEO  

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

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

LINK: TWO Pret Staff have died
1 is said to be a suicide.
It’s not the first suicide in Pret.



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Clive Schlee: A Case Study of the Fun Factory


Even though putting this interview between Clive Schlee and Mario Bauer on here, I am indirectly making advertisement for Pret, and Clive Schlee and Pret like to peek here once in a while, but I want to do a reality check on this conversation from 02.07.2019.

He and Pret have announced on Monday 01.07.2019 (after I tweeted to the press and the press “broke” the news) his “retirement”, but remaining as a non-executive Director.

I find this interesting in many ways. First, when JAB took over Pret they reshuffled the top team pretty quick, including axing co-founder (or “re-founder”) of Pret Sinclair Beecham and HR Director Andrea Wareham.

Quote: “Filings show that CFO Mr Jones, former chairman Larry Billett, HR director Andrea Wareham, co-founder Sinclair Beecham and US president Joanne Brett had all been terminated as directors from parent company PAM Group Limited.” – Daily Mail

Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham re-founded Pret again in 1986 after a short run of the original Pret which was founded in 1983 by Jeffery Hyman. Funny enough, up until the two customer deaths became public, the Wikipedia entry on Pret never showed this info regarding the 1983 start. Julian  Metcalfe is also founder of Asian style fast-food chain itsu and “Metcalfe’s Food Company, in partnership with Clive Schlee.” – Wikipedia

So, JAB axing Sinclair Beecham, yet keeping Clive Schlee on board is interesting. For one, I’m sure it is to “safe face” and not let Schlee look defeated, after the poor re-action on the terrible and unnecessary deaths that happened. But also, knowing how Schlee works, he is the perfect “mascot” for Pret. I always experienced him more like the Ronald McDonald of Pret A Manger, who’s job it is with an endless smile and friendly approachable front, to keep the workforce happy slaving on low wages and the public happy with colourful, fancy food and freebies.

Pano Christou, who came from McDonald’s as a Manager having started in Pret straight away as an Assistant Manager, has a more serious approach to things. He at least blocked me and now deleted his Twitter account. He will be dealing with issues more directly and swifter, but he will do the same business of a profit-driven company.

And that’s where Schlee now will continue his “clown” role, to not only represent Pret as this oh so happy and friendly brand, but to redeem himself with more and more charitable work. This can be seen in the below interview that I’ll be taking apart like a Pret A Manger “line check”, picking ingredients apart, weighing out each item for its “correctness” and if it’s up to standard (truth).


THE INTERVIEW (my comments below)

From Teddy Talks interview by Mario Bauer

Upfront, I doubt Clive Schlee will have a TED Talk anytime soon, but for a Teddy Talks it’s insightful enough.

Key points and my comments on just the things important to mention, not the whole interview. As Mario Bauer’s first language is not English, I will leave grammatical issues, or mistakes in general, in the transcript. I prefer to leave people’s sentences the way they are when I quote them, out of respect and to keep it in their own words like I do with all the staff reviews I collected.



Mario Bauer: at 2:44
“For me the most fascinating thing about Pret is the People Culture. Because what you built over the years, when I talk to Head Hunters, they say you don’t even need to call somebody on Senior level or OPs Manager level, to kind of steal them from Pret. You cannot steal people from Pret, there’s a very high loyalty to you, to your management, to the brand. How do you build that loyalty, how Pret became the people company. Because at the end of the day it’s a sandwich store, how do you make it a people company?”

Clive Schlee: at 3:16
“I think at the very early days, Julian and Sinclair recognized that to get people to get up so early in the morning, and work and make sandwiches in difficult conditions, something had to be special. And they inherently sensed that giving people a future, and giving them friendship and making a sense of family, was going to be very attractive and much more important than money. Money had to be good, but those three F’s: future, friendships and family, that was the beginning of Pret’s culture, which I hope stayed throughout, I always tried to encourage those three.
As a result of that, people get very loyal to Pret, and as you say, it’s difficult to head hunt them away, which we like that very much.”

My comments as Clive Schlee’s patronizing and disrespectful labelling as: “Late Night Girl”
First of all, Mario Bauer asked this question regarding senior people and OPs managers who are difficult to head hunt away from Pret. The reason why they are so difficult to steal away is the immense amount of money senior leaders earn! On top of all the nick-knacks, they fly out to Dubai or if in the U.S. to Las Vegas, throw parties, even sit in pubs during lunch time, while the shop staff slave away and are pressured to work harder for profit and managers’ bonuses! But Mr. Schlee here talks about the shop people as he remains desperate for workers!

On a shop staff level, many people leave easily. I know several colleagues, especially leaders, who left Pret and went to EAT, the competition that is now purchased by JAB via Pret. EAT was set up very similarly and is always seen as the closest imitation of Pret. Andrew Walker, EAT’s CEO used to be Pret’s UK Managing Director before he left Pret, a role which was then taken by Pano Christou. Pano became COO of Pret when JAB took over. There was no COO role in Pret before JAB. Much of EAT’s production did come from large factories, and when they ran out of products in the afternoon, there wasn’t a high pressure to keep making sandwiches. Staff were paid less, but the work was easier, according to those that went there and told me later.

Secondly, I appreciate that Mr. Schlee acknowledges that making sandwiches in Pret is done in “difficult conditions”. Thank you for that acknowledgement!

Thirdly, the three FF’s. Uh-oh, where do I start!? This one I keep brief as the friendship and “family” culture will entangle itself as you read on! I can only say that Pret has either a big fat lying facade when it comes to the “family” environment, or Pret is a very dysfunctional family! But to me I experienced the first to be the case. Only one of many staff reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family




MB: at 3:58
“You have an internal promotional system, university…”

PAUSE: If I understood that he said “university”, I think he means the Pret Academy where staff are trained. Pret doesn’t have a university! Let’s not fly too high here! In the UK, and especially In Pret, there is a lot of psychology used and slogans to sound sophisticated. The Pret Academy is just a place near HQ where leaders are trained. But the results of this “training” can be seen in the appalling way many Managers behave on the day-to-day running of the shops. Not to mention that one of the Trainers is a Development Manager who was used to gaslight me. I share this extensively in my interview at the bottom of this page in the audio-player.

“You have an internal promotional system, university … there’s a lot of people I met over the years … and you always hear the stories ‘I started as a cashier, I worked myself up to a district manager’ (OPs). What’s the structure / system behind it?”

CS: at 4:18
“There’s a very disciplined system behind our academy. And every step, there’s an increased pay-rate and a series of quiz. And you climb up and up and up. There are many chances to climb and that’s very important to Pret. And then we give the lessons and the practical experience so that people can move from being a Team Member Trainer to be a Team Leader to be Assistant Manager …”

Sounds wonderful on paper, but reality is far, far from this! Maybe this was like this before the mid 2000s. But I have not been trained properly and most of my colleagues neither. Only if you were willing to make friends with management were you moved up quickly and somewhat trained. The countless staff reviews in the below slideshow indicate this problem as well.

Yes, there is a strict hierarchy and a complex system where people are micromanaged with small details that burn them out! The really important things they are not trained in: people skills, leadership skills, SKILLS in general!! Pret loves to recruit according to people’s “personality” rather than skill to portray this “happy family” business to the outside. So, you have a lot of happy bunnies bouncing around, burdening down workers who are the ones getting the job done, under intense pressure and low wages while the bunnies claim the credit for it!

Also, the internal promotion system Pret boasts about has always puzzled me! When I started in Pret I was “head hunted” by a former Caffe Nero Manager who got me into his shop. I have worked in several companies where staff were ALWAYS promoted from within! Schlee here says that it must be a world record that in Pret 40% are promoted from within! Sorry?

But what is the saddest thing about the promotion system in Pret is that with some Managers it is an open secret that they got into their position because they became a little “too close” to their boss or even a senior leader from HQ! Their career was paved in the bedroom. This is really sad, because you expect this in a law firm, in Hollywood and certainly in politics, but a sandwich chain? It’s ridiculous and staff often had no respect for management like this behind their backs.

Again, one of many reviews also on this. A recent one from NY:



And a very poignant review by a former General Manager, London.
Quote: “”As much as they “Like to promote internally” you are still just a pawn for them.”

GM internal promotion


Head Office Review:

Review IT Analyst HQ


So, Pret makes such a big deal again out of something, selling ice cubes to Eskimos! The same is true with the free food allowance for staff. EVERY restaurant or cafe business gives free lunch and coffee allowance! Yet, Pret makes it sound like they are the only ones doing this! Sure, the 50% rebate for staff when purchasing items outside of work is very generous, hands down. Many companies either give 10% or like Caffe Nero, we had to pay full price when buying in our private time, which is really unacceptable, to be honest. Same with Iceland. I stood in line behind an Iceland staff member who bought a can of coke for his break, and he paid full price! I asked him about it and they confirmed that they are paying full price. So, Pret is very generous on this front.


MB: at 4:52
“So, basically I know when I do a good job and when I follow the plan, you already set out in two years I’ll be in that position, I’ll make that-and-that money, so people can plan with that.”

CS: at 5:00
“They can see a chart showing them how to climb up.”

That’s true, there is a chart, in fact it’s a silly chart with colourful little cartoons on it, like in Kindergarten, showing how to climb the “ladder”. And that’s about it! How people REALLY climb the ladder often is not like Mario Bauer says, by “doing a good job” and follow some “plan”. No, it’s again by making friends with management, including doing all the dodgy things and short cuts many managers stop doing once they move into management. Because the higher you climb, the more you have to lose. So, they pass all the dirty work down to the Team Leaders. And if the Leaders get caught, they are easier and cheaper to replace. Simple.

It’s like wanting to join a gang, you have to prove yourself, not by doing the right and honourable thing, but by doing some scary dare to prove they are the same as the gang and mean business going all the way, whatever it takes! Many managers in Pret are very insecure, immature, often not trained properly, fluster about when the heat is on. And the worst thing that I find even “incurable” is, many are lazy! I have learned in my many years of work in different companies, that a lot of attitude can be changed and re-trained, but laziness isn’t one of them!

So, when someone comes along who has skill, they will be burdened down with all the hard work that management takes credit AND big bonus for. And if the hard worker has integrity, they will never ever be able to join the “gang”, as they are like a mirror to managers who don’t like secure people with skill reflecting their shortcomings. I’ve seen too many good people leave Pret or even worse, go backwards from a Team Leader back to a Barista or even an Assistant Manager went all the way back to being Team Member. I’ve never seen employees in ANY company I’ve worked before go backwards! They either climb up, stay at the position, or leave the company.

I had this thought many times in my Pret struggle, but going backwards was never an option for me. It was either: go up, stay put, or go out. But you never go backwards within the company. It might be one of my crazy ticks. But that’s how I always felt.

In 5:04 the question of how many people work for Pret, the CEO answers with over 13.000 in all the different countries. When the £1000 announcement was made a year ago, which I write about the timing of it in connection to my blog. Also, after tax the £1000 really was about £800.

Clive Schlee gives some appreciation to all the foreign workers in 5:18 which I think does need to be mentioned to be fair. He says that Pret would not be where they are without all the foreign workers. This raises the question again on why there are so few British workers. And Pret is reaching out now into all sorts of avenues to recruit especially young Birtish workers (cheaper workers under 21, indoctrinating them early, the investment is for longer and young folk are oblivious of their rights). But I appreciate that he acknowledges that without all the foreign workers Pret would not be where it is today! But words are cheap! Paying them the Living Wage and treating them with respect would make his appreciation more believable.



Mario Bauer’s questions about the “Rising Stars” program at 5:37

CS: at 5:56
Pret has been involved with helping the homeles since the very early days, when we first made sandwiches in the mornings, I think Julian and Sinclair recognized they could never ever keep the sandwiches over night. So, we gave the sandwiches to the homeless. … From the day we made the sandwiches in the morning, within a couple of years of Pret starting.

So we always were generous to homeless people with food. But there’s another thing that matters to homeless people a lot, which is, what they most need is a job. Simply giving them food is not enough. So, we started to work out how we could give them a job and eventually we have developed a program which is one of the successful in the world …”

PAUSE: Did he claim to have one of the most successful project in the world of giving former homeless people a job??

CS: “… giving people who’ve been homeless, we get them recommended to us by hostels and organizations, and ex-offenders. And they come and work in Pret for 12 weeks. We give them a Zone 1 Underground pass. And we make sure they get up and we give them a buddy, and we really train them with care. And they can get careers in Pret…”

Sounds all very good and commendable. But this one really bugs me because of the marketing and labelling people in a patronizing way “Rising Stars”. If I was a former homeless person, this would really not sit well with me. First of all, it is really great when he takes former homeless people to his Austrian property or to other places, giving them jobs, and now accommodation etc. And maybe he gives them access to his world to give them an appetite of how to drive for more profit in the hopes to become rich. But nevertheless, it is commendable. Beautiful! Yet, in comparison to how regular staff are treated, it is disheartening to say the least on how he uses them for PR!

In the PRet CEO blog about the “Rising Stars” former homeless employment program, Schlee shares how the idea came up for these “Rising Stars” to solely work together in a Pret shop. From the manager to the kitchen sandwich makers, having all former homeless people work in one shop.


CEO Quote (I added the colour to highlight something where he’s indirectly giving himself away):

“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.”


2019-01-02 re Rising Stars too few2


And on the 450 “Rising Stars” since the 10 years of the Pret Foundation Trust, working with former homeless people, some people finally probe deeper, also on Facebook and are just not buying it:


Why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12K staff


“Careful to integrate”?

Might be leaving them “too exposed”?

Too exposed for what?

Clive Schlee giving himself away again. The same CEO who takes former homeless people to his Austrian PRoperty for a hike in the beautiful countryside, is the same CEO who has a highly stressful workplace with bullying managers who are drilled for targets and profit, repaying the investors since private equity took over.

2019-02-11 Critical Tweet re Homeless house


Review IT Analyst HQ



2019-02-09 Response to Homeless House Tweet2

Facebook comment need to load a few second to see the comment, also need to be logged into FB.


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This part really bugs me now:

MB at 7:20 asking where the “Rising Stars” live when they start working in Pret, if they still live on the streets.

CS: at 7:23
No, no, no, we normally get recommended. We have to choose the ‘Rising Stars’ very carefully, because they look like all the other Team Members. It’s important they blend in with the other team Members. They get selected by homeless organizations who say ‘that person has the capacity to work in Pret’ and they put them forward to us.”

LNG: This is a tricky one because on one hand I can understand that Pret wants people to “blend in” and “be like” all the others. But this uniformity shows how discriminating Pret really is. If this company truly is free of discrimination, free of judgment towards a diversity of people, why have a “chosen few” system? A “regular” homeless person has NO chance to be “selected” to be of the “special few”.

And Pret treats former homeless people with special care. Again, this is good, but it is also damaging for the regular staff who are pushed, pressured and bullied to perform in high pace for profit. This makes regular staff mentally ill, depressed, not to mention even suicidal. THIS is why I write so blunt and loud, because my own story (interview at the bottom audio player) had me almost killed in what Pret under Clive Schlee’s leadership has put me through! I could be dead now or on the streets myself.

Former Assistant Manager was unfairly dismissed and had to sleep in his car, having lost everything:

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff


This happened to him, my story with Pret and many many others who were treated like sh*t and God knows how many landed on the streets, became depressed and even died by suicide!

I call them and us the “Fallen Stars” of Pret A Manger that Clive Schlee burdened like donkeys for profit!

That is why I don’t buy his “Rising Stars” scheme! I even believe that he really thinks he is doing good! I often see Mr. Schlee as living in La La Land, somewhere in a bubble where he actually really believes he’s doing so much good! Now 480 “Rising Stars” in 10 years vs. 13.000 current staff that struggle! Hello?

2018-10-02 Modern day slavery depression

Link Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work


2019-04-16 Depression Toxic

Link “If you want to know what Depression is work at Pret A Manger is the best place for that…Toxic environment”


Annihilate Humanity 41


»This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you.«

»You will loose everything that makes you human.«


And these above reviews, among all the many other reviews, answer the question on why Pret is “careful to integrate” former homeless people into regular shops, not wanting to leave them “too exposed”. It would hurt Pret’s marketing and image to bully them the same way like they bully regular staff who then break and fall into the same problems some of the “Rising Stars” came out of! This is beyond hypocrisy, this is what the above former HQ IT Analyst wrote about Pret using people for PR.

I was bullied after 7 years in Pret when I became bereaved and continued for another 3 years in hell in a complete fog, emotional war-zone and confusion!

The conversation goes on about food waste, which is also not always done and I cover this in “Pret Food Waste” or about products and food development, Veggie Pret etc. Further in the interview Mario Bauer asks at 15:37 that the London landscape has changed with a Pret on almost every corner, and how the company will stay relevant with a shop on every corner. Schlee hesitates a little bit here, but answers by saying that the staff are Pret’s number one job as they are the ones that have the biggest impact and how Pret works to make things easy for them (uhm!) etc. He goes on about the food, communication on the packaging to customers (well, he doesn’t mean allergen labelling by the way!). Lastly, he talks about how the corner is “king” and when he gives advise to businesses he tells them to open on corners and that he would call Pret a “corner company”. Sounds all very lovely.

What he doesn’t tell us is, what this Times article does in: “Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it“, quote:

»Veteran private equity investor: “We buy a business, work out how many restaurants you can get away with in an area until it’s become saturated, then try to convince a new buyer that there is plenty more runway”.«

And JAB took over from Bridgepoint and now concentrates on the USA and other European cities, especially airports and train stations to “spread” the brand faster throughout the world! London’s landscape has indeed changed, but not for the better. It is cluttered with Prets that even long-time fans get tired of it, including above journalist Sathnam Sanghera. So, JAB expands out! And Mario Bauer touches on this when he says that “you own the high street and then you grow…”

I fast forward in this interview to what is important to me as a former long-time employee having suffered in Pret almost to the point of suicide. All the business bla-bla isn’t my concern here but staff issues. They briefly touch on the customers who died and again, Clive Schlee is talking too much about how it was for HIM instead of how he has failed to re-act on warnings, not to mention putting in “meaningful change” IMMEDIATELY when the deaths occurred rather than waiting until it became public years later.

I especially want to skip the private equity part when Bridgepoint came in and when the “squeeze” really started on workers. I don’t want to waste my time on this part of the greed of those business ventures, except to say that their definition of success is that Bridgepoint, and now JAB, bring in great riches. But it is for the top leadership on the backs of low-wage workers. Schlee says in the interview how staff turn-over has decreased. But how can this be, that while Pret is growing, the numbers of staff since 2016 has decreased and the chronic under-staffing, that employees as well as customers complain about on Twitter and other sites, not to mention my experience.

Speaking about “chronically” under-staffing, I speak a lot about this and may have started this term of “chronic” under-staffing. And it gives me hope to know that staff read my blog and Tweets. I know this from the feedback I get in emails and also just found today a brand new review on Glassdoor which sounds like I have written it, LOL!! But someone must have read my words and on reviews sites you cannot leave more than 1 review or vote more than once. I am happy to inspire staff to find words to their Pret experience!

2019-07-02 Toxic chronically understaffed


Back to the private equity issue, the few pennies Pret pays more or the few perks they give does not cover the pain and double work people go through. One poignant review by a former GM on a blog comment in 2012 about how Bridgepoint’s 2008 entrance has hurt Pret:

2012-07-23 Ex GM2

2012 on Blogspot

Another from a GM along those lines:

Worst Mafia


Assistant Manager from NY 2017:

2017-05-26 AM NYC Pure Misery


… and so on …

Pret Factory

From an old US Pret site

That’s true, there’s no big sandwich-making machine and no big sandwich factory. There are many small, little sandwich-making human machines, working in small and cramped kitchens. The human machines are pushed and pressured to assemble items fast in factory-style conditions of fear management, loud and fast music to beat the drum of the work-pace under the facade of “fun”!


The interviewer now asks the CEO about his management style at 31:37, and Schlee answers that one has to be a happy and positive person. He goes on to give an example about the boss of Barclay’s and how he walks his dog every morning. His dog wags his tale and when a dog wags his tale, the other dogs wag their tales. Schlee teaches this to the managers he says, but again, how can a manager, or any staff at that be truly happy under such excrutiating stress on a daily basis! My only thought is that he is doing emotional labour and wants his staff to do the same, while in reality there is a lot of depression, alcoholism and anxiety. And I mean it when I say that I hope Clive Schlee himself is not suffering depression while performing a fake happiness, as this will catch up on even the most positive person in time.

I do understand that what happened with the deaths, as well as staff deaths and my situation including my blog, must be very hard on him. But the times of feeling empathy for a multi-millionaire who has access to any help, resource and support he can get, is over. He is a leader who has been entrusted with thousands of PEOPLE! It is his decision what he does with that responsibility. It is actually heartbreaking to watch him explain how if managers can wag their tale and be happy during the stressful times, because he knows my blog and by now has read all the reviews of people who are broken! So, I do hope Clive is okay, but at the same time I hope as well that he wakes up to his responsibility of the thousands of people he is over.

And I say again here what I said on Twitter, and the reason I say this so blunt is because of the tone in Pret shops. The way hard workers are spoken to, shouted at, discriminated etc. My own story that I survived and still don’t know how I did. One manager after I came out of a shop where I was openly bullied during the worst time in traumatic grief, and my new manager said to me alone in the office away from witnesses when I was completely out of my mind in trauma and grief; he said to me in a quiet tone when I was distraught and questioned his motive (he didn’t pay me for Christmas Eve!), he said: “I don’t want the area to feel sorry for me anymore”, meaning the other managers in the area felt sorry for him because I was thrust into his shop by HR! I write about this in “Discrimination: Mental vs. Physical“. I cannot describe the shock and humiliation I went through again and again and again and again…

And I say this again here like I said on Twitter, that I do respect Clive Schlee as a human being, but not as a leader. I have no respect for his leadership whatsoever and even feel extremely ashamed to have been fooled for so long about him when I worked in Pret!

The end of the interview is to me the most important part I want to cover on the reality versus the facade or delusion. At 38:10 I want to quote again. But before I quote, it’s funny how he says that having been in Pret a long time, and that “you have to be careful not to stay too long at these places” … at “these places”? 😉 Being so infaturated with Pret, I am sure it wasn’t quiet his choice to step down after all that happened!

CS: “As I now turned 60, I’m beginning to”

PAUSE: Beginning to? … and then he quickly changes direction!

CS:I think there are two kinds of virtues:
your resume virtues when you’re accumulating and opening shops and increasing gross profit.
And then there is your eulogy virtues, which is how people really look at you as a person. And unfortunately they won’t remember the fact that … [a company has made profit]…
They will remember how you handled things”

PAUSE: HOW you handle things!


9 Warnings Ignored

From Yahoo Finance / YouTube / ITV

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse mum on her shock that Pret did NOTHING even after Natasha died! >>> YouTube


“A young person died from eating one of their products, and the fact that they did nothing and just let things carry on exactly as they had before, is beyond believe actually!”
– Tanya Ednan-Laperouse


Also, Pret was sued in New York in 2016 already after a customer went into anaphylactic shock from Sesame in an unlabelled wrap! >>> Article. So, this wasn’t a first incidence of sesame.


CS: “How you treated people”

PAUSE: HOW you treated people!

Go back


CS: “So I’m kind of moving in that direction now.”

NOW, hey!

So, he steps down, but remains as a non-executive Director. Pano Christou will take over and continue to drive the Pret machine hard for profit! Clive Schlee will concentrate on repairing his reputation as this lovely, happy CEO, ignoring all the pain and suffering that is still going on under his leadership! I still believe he needs to be taken to court on all these issues.

Clive Schlee says all the right things, but reality is very, very different, and I still cannot come to the conclusion if he is just very diluted or an ice cold business man. Or both! But one thing I am certain is, that his friendly, approachable demeanor does not fool me anymore after what I have suffered and witnessed for years.


The legacy of a private equity owned company:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019 figures


LINK: >>> Long list of staff complaints.


May 2019: TWO Pret Staff have died
>>> Link to Article



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Clive Schlee’s “Retirement” vs. Resignation


»Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.«
Proverbs 24:17


But, it’s not good enough, Pret / JAB! It’s not good enough!

I found a Tweet last night on Mr. Schlee’s Twitter where he silently responded to a farewell Tweet, which to me looks like what I call a “bait” Tweet, as the CEO has not blocked me…

I wrote a blog entry after reading and tweeting, and this morning tweeted to the press which in turn very quickly announced that Pret HQ announced Clive Schlee’s “retirement”. They must have contacted HQ to verify my Tweet leading to the CEO’s Tweet. Only after my Tweet and then the press’ “breaking” news did Clive Schlee and Pret make the announcement. Maybe it’s their feeble attempt to pretend to be slow in announcements like they were with customer deaths… I don’t know, but with Pret I don’t expect any professionalism.

Last night:


2019-07-01 quiet retirement



This morning around 10am my Tweet to the press:


2019-07-01 My Schlee retirement Tweet


And promptly I get partially shadow banned for the next 48 hours after having tweeted to the Press. My Tweets are still visible within a feed if one clicks “Show more replies” as they left the “Thread ban ” open, but cannot be found in search.

2019-07-01 ExPretAManger NO Thread ban
The ban will be lifted and all in the green on 03. July approx. 10:30am UK time.

Retiring while remaining as a non-executive Director (like he is in itsu as well) is not retiring. I do understand that my website may be a sore in JAB / Reimann’s sight and finding a compromise, a typical Pret sweet-talk again to sort of, kind of, a little bit, somehow… have Clive Schlee “step down” but remain in a leading role behind the scenes!

And I write again what I wrote this morning, that Clive Schlee needs to be taken to court and face the music for once! Customer deaths, staff deaths incl. suicides, I survived… how many more are under the carpet? When will Pret A Manger take responsibility, away from the blaming game and sweet-talk?

Not good enough, Pret / JAB! Under Clive Schlee staff is expected to “strive for perfection” and are squeezed the life-blood out of them for low wage!

Not good enough!

One person on Twitter this morning, whom I didn’t read before posted this in response to Clive Schlee’s Tweet (which came after the press reports after my Tweet), a very rare observation of someone from the public looking deeper:


2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor



»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.« – by @


Clive Schlee’s legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019


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


Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!


A brief list of writings regarding Clive Schlee: Clive Schlee’s “Late Night Girl” Articles.



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


The Difference between Profit and True Wealth


A must-see for anyone who cares about people over profits.

The anti-CEO playbook | Hamdi Ulukaya

TED / YouTube intro:

»Profit, money, shareholders: these are the priorities of most companies today. But at what cost? In an appeal to corporate leaders worldwide, Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya calls for an end to the business playbook of the past — and shares his vision for a new, “anti-CEO playbook” that prioritizes people over profits. “This is the difference between profit and true wealth,” he says.«


One quote I want to highlight, literally having survived a profit-driven company:

“I kept wondering what is this all about? Corporate America says it’s about profits. Business says it’s about money. The CEO Playbook says it’s about shareholders. And so much is sacrificed for it, factories, communities, jobs. But not by CEOs. CEOs have their employees suffer for them. But yet, the CEOs pay goes up and up and up… and so many people are left behind. I’m here to tell you: No more! It’s not right! It’s never been right! It’s time to admit, that the playbook that guided businesses and CEOs for the last forty years is broken.”

There’s hope with CEOs like Hamdi Ulukaya and Guy Singh-Watson from employee-owned Riverford… Times they are a-changin’… again!

“To sell my business, this thing that I created, that I poured my life, 30 years of work in; to sell it to one of those bastards (venture capitalists), it would feel like selling one of my children into prostitution. And I was never gonna do it”Guy Singh-Watson


TWO Pret staff died recently, one is said to be a suicide.
It’s not the first suicide in Pret.

LINK >>> When will Pret A Manger be independently investigated on staff deaths?!

Pret Staff Reviews and Complaints:

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



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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Timing of Clive Schlee’s £1000 Announcement


I wrote about this already on various blog entries but want to put a visual of the timing of the announcement here and why this is important.

Pret A Manger’s CEO Clive Schlee made an announcement on 29. May 2018 on Twitter welcoming the new owners of Pret, JAB Holdings under German billionaire family Reimann, that also owns Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread and a list of other companies. The press is full recently of Reimann’s Nazi past, but that’s another story.

For my full story with Pret please scroll down to the interview and the “Mind Map” that gives an overview of my ordeal with Pret.

My blog and website here I started in May 2017 under where I posted poetry and videos I made for my brother who died in December 2014. I had another website before, but it was loaded with advertisement and I wanted a clean looking homepage, that didn’t distract the reader with blinking, and I mean literally blinking imagery.

After my ordeal in Pret I added the URL to my website and recently added as Late Night Girl doesn’t make much sense for people who don’t know my story. All three URLs will lead to this same site. Again, the full story and overview at the bottom of this page.

Late on 28th May 2018 I sent a link of this blog to an area manager I worked under whom I know cannot keep a secret. I was angry still and wrote to the area manager that she can do with it what she wants. I know she can’t keep a secret because she sent my emails on after promising she wouldn’t and is in general VERY talkative, I just sent my link to her.

On 29th May I woke up before 7am and found my website statistics skyrocketed!! Where before I had just a handful of visitors every day, like 5 visitors one day, then 3 visitors the next, zero visitors, 10 visitors etc. Suddenly on the 29th in the morning it went into the hundreds, and to this day (3. April 2019) is still the most visited day my blog has ever received!

I have lots of visitors now, but nothing has reached the 29th May 2018 stats yet!

On 28. May 2018 late in the evening I sent my blog to the area manager.

29. May 2018 in the morning I could literally watch the visitors and clicks increase LIVE as they visited and clicked! From that day on my stats had increased visitors, but never as much as the 29th May to this day.


BEST views ever 29May2018


And on the 29. May 2018 Clive Schlee CEO of Pret, who labeled me his “late night girl” posted this tweet in the early hours:


2018-05-29 Clive Announcement



And what do the public write? How wonderful Pret is and that the CEO is the BEST!

PR[et] at its best for sure! 😀

Now, I don’t believe that he just came up with the idea then and there to give £1000 to all staff, but I strongly believe the timing was due to him getting informed of my website late on 28th May 2018 into the 29th May, because in October staff were still waiting and going on Twitter frustrated why the bonus hasn’t been paid yet! And I know how Clive Schlee reacts when confronted with difficulties, he quickly counters with “charity” to win people over, sowing doubts that Pret ever would be harmful to people, staff as well customers.

So, I’m proud to have been part of getting all staff some extra cash, although I feel for them being fooled, as the timing of the announcement was premature and a typical panic reaction Clive Schlee does when he’s about to face difficulties or Pret in danger of getting exposed.

A quick gesture and PR stunt was supposed to “eliminate” any doubts towards Pret, once more people become aware of my website and exposing Pret for what they really are behind the facade. Frankly, Pret is not the ethical and caring company they portray to the public.

Weeks and months later though staff got frustrated and confused when the £1000 would finally be paid. And Clive Schlee of course puts responsibility downwards unto his managers wanting staff to get away from the public tweeting. I tweeted in his announcement feed, but got shadow banned at that time without realizing as I didn’t know what shadow banning was then. But I did notice that my tweets weren’t visible when I was logged out. They are still there, but visible when one has the direct link.

Only one of my tweets is visible to the public, my response to Clive Schlee trying to divert responsibility downwards. My other tweets in the feed are hidden from the public but visible in my Tweets & Replies feed.

So, here he is, making this announcement and when the going gets tough and staff complain when the promise will “moneyfest” (sorry, couldn’t help it!) Schlee diverts to managers and the people team (HR).

In August, 3 months after the announcement, the first staff members started raising questions, some even started a Twitter account then just to confront the CEO on his promise as staff didn’t get any info from the shops. My response at the bottom is the only one that didn’t get shadow banned:


2018-08-29 My response to £1000 delay



Into September and October:


2018-09-01 Pret Staff Twitter £1000


2018-09-12 Pret Staff Twitter £1000


2018-09-15 Staff Twitter Complaint £1000


2018-09-16 WorshipBroccoli £1000


2018-09-19 Meme USA



2018-09-24 Kevin Pavain re £1000


Kevin makes an important point about the timing of the announcement. What Kevin and all the others don’t know (he knows now) is WHY Clive Schlee announced it prematurely! I even posted the reason in September, but was shadow banned unbeknown to me at the time. So, not sure if people got the message then and there. I retweeted the info a few times after that on different occasions in some of my “late night girl” shifts!

So, needless to say, “Stockholm Syndrome” is not my problem anymore, THIS is NOT my fault that he made this announcement prematurely giving an untimely hope to all his staff! This is solely Clive Schlee’s TYPICAL panic reaction to a problem he faces! That one also is on the house and he needs to fit the bill!


2018-09-28 Meme People Team


My response to Meme but it is hidden as I must have been shadow banned at the time without knowing it. Meme in the USA doesn’t even know what the Pret People Team is because in the U.S. many complaints from staff that they are discriminated against, British staff are preferred, they aren’t trained, HR is non-existent etc.
My hidden/shadow banned tweet visible via my Tweets & Replies:


2018-09-28 Meme People Team my response



And the appalling slogan of Pret’s HR department:

Right Thing Naturally


One Team Member got it right, money isn’t everything, but family is!

Typo: Hay here means “employee” not employer.



Last complaint in that feed:


2018-10-01 Staff Twitter £1000


I am contacted by Pret staff who were warned that if they tweet or post openly on Facebook of any complaints, they get a disciplinary or dismissed.

But, basically the deal wasn’t finalized until September 2018, all the managers and probably HR were in the air about it. Team Members thought managers were secretive. But knowing Pret and managers, they were not secretive, they were CLUELESS because Clive Schlee made the announcement too early. On 29th May 2018 after being informed about my blog and he jumped quick to do a PR announcement, so that when the public becomes aware of my blog, they won’t believe me, but assume that Pret is so wonderful to its staff. Good one CEO, but not good enough, because throwing money at a problem is just temporary while not working on the root issue.

It used to take 10 years service to receive £1000 and now suddenly all staff members would receive it even new employees after one year of service. If the CEO originally planned to give all staff £1000 only he knows, but staff on Facebook have complaint that the 10 year £1000 reward has been cancelled.

When I worked in Pret still in 2017 Pret already cancelled the 5 year award of £500. So, it looks to me that the plan was to slowly faze out all these awards as Pret has entered the nasty business of fast-food workers exploitation even more now with the JAB take-over.

The £1000 announcement to all staff looks to me like a farewell gesture where no other awards will be given anymore as they did before.


So, the wording of the CEO “Today is a big day for Pret” … why TODAY when the sale wasn’t finalized?! Staff still waited in October for the promised cash, which by the way is around £800 after tax is deducted!

My thought: “TODAY” was the big day when Clive Schlee and Pret got confronted with my blog as I have declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal with Pret.


And sadly only ONE customer immediately sees through this PR stunt among all the euphoria:

2018-05-29 Ann Donovan sees thru PR



Pret also suddenly became very selective in staff, even after the 3 months trial period being excellent in his work, this kitchen team member in the below link, who has a mental health issue did NOT get the job as Pret would have had to pay him £1000 after a year of service. Ben, the manager* of the Brixton shop even wrote the following to Hind from the Pret Foundation trust: (I added the bold but the manager wrote in capitals EVERY).
*The OPs manager of the Brixton shop area is called Ben:

“Please let him know that we were very impressed by his professionalism at work and always giving 100% in whatever he was doing. The quality of products he made were picture perfect EVERY time. Myself and the team would like to say a big thank you and we wish him luck in his new job and we hope he will pop by for a coffee on us whenever he is in Brixton as he will always be one of us.”

In a nutshell, Sergio was only used for PR and he is oblivious to it and does what we all do when we believe nice sounding words. Sergio was treated exceptionally well, worked only Monday to Friday in the moring which is very unusual as Pret excepts staff to be fleixble. Sergio was NOT pushed, and yet, even though they were impressed with him, he was excellent and his products pictrure perfect EVERY time, he wasn’t even taken on in the shop! They had no work for him… hello, anyone smell a rat??

He shares on this website of the Mental Health Club. I know him, because I am a member of the same Mental Health Club that Pret tries to infiltrate to fish for workers and mainly use people for PR. I cover this and the trap Sergio fell into extensively in my Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust.


UPDATE: Even with this “generosity”, the recommendation on Glassdoor for Pret and the CEO in June 2019 (1 year after the £1000 announcement) speaks volumes:

2019-05-05 44 recommend Pret 52 recomm Clive



Long List of Pret Staff Complaints
with my interview at the top.


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UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?



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 CEO Clive Schlee. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote a recent article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

The Great Pret-ender (Genius of the Crowd)


There’s a clown whose job it is to keep everyone happy and buying stuff.

Usually clowns are there to make people laugh, but some clowns are having a laugh on the account of those who make these clowns great wealth under poverty wages.

Best example of patronizing hard-working people:


“I’m very conscious about how hard our staff work – how cheerful they are and how motivated they are when buttering the bread – all that is very important and you simply can’t afford to alienate your staff. Under no circumstances will we risk that – we haven’t cut any of our bonuses.”




PAMSU Clive Alienate Staff







2018-10-13 Clive Schlee Clown Tweet




“I’m very conscious about how hard our staff work” 


I am very aware that “our” staff work their butts off for nothing while being bullied, exploited and my job is to smile, be approachable for PR and to sound like I appreciate them. With a smile and sweet-talk I exploit them and received £30 Million from the JAB purchase. Thank you hard-working slaves. I am very conscious about how hard you work, I certainly celebrate with my fellow slave masters in Dubai, Las Vegas, Austria, New York … Thank you. Keep working and being fooled by my slogans. 


“how cheerful they are and how motivated they are when buttering the bread”

Anyone seeing the cynicism, disrespect and patronizing approach here?

“how cheerful and motivated when buttering the bread”. 


Uhm, hello? Mr. Schlee, are you ok?


Brutal Nightmare


2018-07-06 Head Office PR crop2


2018-11-01 Go back to UK


Just three of the many Pret staff reviews and complaints collected.


Here is an outcome, a quick reaction leading to a PRETENSE that I am particularly proud of having been part of:


BEST views ever 29May2018

I sent a link to my blog here in the late evening of 28th May 2018 to an Operations Manager (OPs) via Facebook. This OPs I know cannot keep a secret. I’ve sent a link before to some Pret employees, but these employees have integrity, are empathetic, and probably thought to protect me they won’t send my website on to Pret’s leadership. I never asked anyone to send on, as I want people to decide themselves what to do with all the info I write.

But on 28th of May I was fed up to be writing without Pret being aware of it. So, I sent a link to this OPs who cannot keep a secret! 😀

And when I woke up on 29th May 2018 and checked my website’s statistics, the number of visitors and clicks were already through the roof even before 8am! My stats went from a few visitors and clicks on most days to a three digit number over night! I could even see LIVE as the numbers increased click by click!

I now have lots of visitors every day, even when “shadow banned” on Twitter and Facebook, but the 29th of May is still the most visited day so far, to this day (17.02.2019)!

Now, hands up if you believe in coincidence? I don’t! I know how fast Pret reacts to quickly counter any bad press and the fear of being exposed. The shiny PR[et] facade needs a quick polish!

Check the date (and time!) of this Tweet by Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee:


2018-05-29 £1000 Announcement



And team members went on Twitter even in October asking where the money is! Staff have been told if they go on social media with critical Tweets, they will receive a disciplinary and are threatened with their job security.


2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement


My tweet here is hidden as Pret let’s Twitter shadow ban my account where I expose Pret.


1000 announcement still waiting 2018-10-02b



This is just one of many examples of the pretense of Pret A Manger. But I’m delighted to be rattling the cage enough for Pret to be a little more generous, even if just for pretense.


Thinking about my ordeal in Pret A Manger and the pretense of this company that has almost cost me my life, a poem by Charles Bukowski comes to mind, on how the majority of “average” people really don’t care, and in fact dangerously are harmful. Indifference and selfishness is the biggest problem I believe. One of my favourite musicians, Whitey put Bukowski’s poem into a simple but brilliant piece of music, read by Charles Bukowski himself:




For an overview of important blog entries regarding Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The arrow next to each heading will lead directly to the post. Thank you for reading.


For an overview of important blog entries regarding Pret A Manger, please visit My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The arrow next to each heading will lead directly to the post. Thank you for reading.



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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.



The Best thing that happened to Pret A Manger


… is CEO Clive Schlee in terms of PR, marketing and presenting a well polished facade. But the CEO is not the best thing that happened to staff. Him being approachable and friendly is acting while staff suffer and are being fooled. I am a former Pret employee of 10 years and have survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement under Pret’s leadership. My interview on a podcast at the bottom of this page.

No matter how many customers died, a third nearly fatal allergy reaction, several hospitalized and multiple ignored warnings: the CEO will fix every mess with an approachable smile.

Clive Schlee labelled me his “late night girl” and I survived his “friendliness” to publicly speak about my ordeal and many other staff complaints I collected onto one page: Selected Quotes and long List of Reviews and comments on the web.

How easy it is to take a few former homeless people who are vulnerable and easy to be manipulated, taking them to Schlee’s PRivate PRoperty in Austria for a hike, or going to Stone Hedge and now giving them accommodation and a low paid job, separating them from regular shops, as quoting Schlee they don’t want to keep them “too exposed” being slow to “integrate” them into regular shops.

In the meantime regular shops are harsh places with poorly trained bullying managers who are tasked to reach high target and profit, so that Mr. Schlee can pocket his £30 Million. So, what does he compensate this poor treatment of staff with?

Yep, good deeds via charity.

I posted several blog entries on the facade that Clive Schlee like the Ronald McDonald Clown does for McDonald’s, Clive does for Pret. Clive is the good cop, shop management are the bad cops, but all have one goal, squeeze as much “productivity” out of staff to maximize profit. And in all this throw in some good works and lots of free coffees for customers (that are paid by raised prices) and the public is hypnotized and lulled in to sleep.

With all things in life where we want to believe a facade and are shocked beyond believe when the quiet neighbour next door who was always so involved in the community turns out to not be what everyone around him believed. The truth always comes to light about a company, person, system, ideology…




Some blog posts I wrote regarding Clive Schlee:


Cry Me A River – Translating Crocodile TearsClive Schlee not acting on customer deaths until this became public.

The “Fallen Stars” of Pret – Regular staff have a different story behind the scenes. Yes, there are good shops and good managers as well, but I worked in over a dozen shops and have only worked with 2 maximum 3 managers who were good and “normal”. The majority is terrible management.

The Great Pret-ender (Genius of the Crowd)

Pret Poets Society Explaining the different job roles in Pret shops and reviews from those.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly Another writing to Clive Schlee


… and some other indirect posts on the overall atmosphere behind the Pret facade.


2018-01-07 I Hate Pret Facebook Page2

Facebook group since 2011 that Facebook hides on behalf of paying companies like Pret



2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

Former Pret staff who was fired for starting a Union



2018-07-06 Head Office PR

Former IT Analyst having worked in HQ


17 Odd

Former Purchasing Director NYC


2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Former Corporate Employee NYC



2018-10-15 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR




Brutal Nightmare

YouTube comment towards the bottom


10 Chicago Pret horrible company to work for

A comment from a customer in Chicago who knew a deceased Pret employee


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



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 CEO. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

The Good, Bad & Ugly: To Clive Schlee


To the current CEO of Pret A Manger Clive Schlee,

I want to respond to your invitation to give feedback on the good the bad and the ugly. As you anticipate my responses, not blocking me so you can collect my Tweets and writings (also through automated bookmarking from my blog) in case for court and other reasons I won’t speculate upon, I continue to share for the sake of the public. I used to never do these kinds of communications. I used to always be discreet and professional giving the benefit of the doubt, communicating one to one, and not calling out wrongdoing in public.

Yet as you know, with what your management and HR department has put me through under your guidance and leadership, especially managers telling me off in front of my teams and my repeated requests to be spoken to in private regarding mistakes, I was given the poor explanation that I am being corrected for the benefit of the team so they can learn from my mistakes.

Apart from this being very poor management and a lame excuse for bullying, I do like to take the opportunity and use this leadership “style” to communicate to you openly again for the benefit of the public and other companies to learn from your “mistakes”.

As there are always new readers who do not know my story and what staff in Pret go through, here again my feedback on Pret A Manger’s work-conditions. Starting with an employee review on Pret in New York City:


2018-11-01 Go back to UK


Link to review (collected with other reviews and complaints on “Quotes of the Day“)



Pret A Manger: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly



The Good

I used to be a very giving person, quick to forgive, patient in difficult times, very loyal come rain come shine, hard working with integrity and passion, deeply caring for my teams… and I am still these things with measure and with all the shortcomings I have. And if there is one good thing I take away from my experience in Pret, it is the lesson and freedom to say the small yet heavy word starting with “n” and ending with “o”.

Like the above review from 30. October 2018 of a former Pret employee in NYC, I can only underline this review as I have also never worked in such a toxic, abusive and bullying workplace that hides behind a smiley facade. And it took extreme trauma, being bullied during bereavement and gaslighted under a corrupt HR department to finally come to the conclusion that Pret is absolutely not what it gives itself to the public and staff.


From another review appropriately even titled “The good and the bad”, quote: I just feel very strongly that the general public view of this company is very far off from the truth…” Link


The only good I took away from Pret is my freedom to say “no”, no matter if this will result in unfavourable positions, exclusion, less finances etc. It doesn’t matter. The most precious things I am left with is my integrity, my principles, my values that cannot be prostituted for money or bought for silence or crushed by incapable and poorly trained “leadership”.




The Bad

Unfortunately Pret has drawn the bad out of me. Where I used to be discreet, professional and quick to forgive, I went so out-of-sync in my communication, and yet I am still learning with the support or others to not be hard on myself.

Tomorrow 09.12.2018 will be the fourth anniversary of my brother’s death, and that date is only estimated, we “adopted” that date just to have a reference. But I was not to learn for five weeks after he was found that he was dead and cremated, completely gone. All the circumstances, the mess and surroundings of it was to turn my life unto a halt while going ahead on autopilot with no choice but to keep working.

To then be bullied by Pret’s management and my aim to bring suggestions to HR and “help” a multi-million pound company improve work-conditions to have a clear policy for bereaved employees in place, was in hindsight not only a waste of time, but not my responsibility. Clive Schlee, you certainly had a good laugh on the account of my dignity and health. My grief was postponed while going through this ordeal in Pret. My grief has turned complicated as it already was. I can never be silent about what you put me through with this incapable, careless and manipulative management style.

The true employee reviews where staff are “overstretched” as undercover reporter Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror experienced; where staff are being treated in a way that a GM felt no other option than to walk out; and in my own and many other experiences where workers are stressed, pushed and bullied to breaking point even during bereavement will always rise to the surface of the facade you worked so hard on to maintain.

The slogan of “doing the right thing” and with your HR department taking it to more lofty heights by claiming to be “doing the right thing naturally” is unbelievable in its arrogance!


2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1


2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks3



Review: “This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you. … You will lose everything that makes you human.” Link


You try to compensate this “leadership” style by treating former homeless people (whom you patronizingly call “Rising Stars”) with kindness and more consideration, and in your own words are “careful to integrate” them into regular shops, as the work environment is brutal and may catapult them back unto the streets giving your PR a true face.

While this is a great thing to do, helping people back into work, giving them an beautiful break by flying them out to your Austrian home, or hike in the English countryside etc., I question the motive behind this kindness. Many staff in the main “population” of your workforce are treated horrendously bad. People are fired unnecessarily and unfairly, staff become depressed and suicidal. I was bullied during grief under your watch and you even being part of my ordeal calling me your “late night girl” two months before I was fired while my dad was in intensive care just out of a coma!

This contrast to your “Rising Stars” program should make anyone question the true intention of your “kindness” as I pointed out in my open letter to the Pret Foundation Trust. It is like what one reviewer compared Pret to a “Mafia” organization I posted in Pret A M*ffin. No, of course Pret is not a mafia organization, but what does a mafia organization do best? They rule in every corner of a region, give money to the city and charities, to school projects and hospitals, and of course to the police and politicians, and even the press, while getting free range and their backs covered to build their organization and destroy lives. So, I can empathize with this reviewers comparison.


Quote from your blog about the Rising Star program and the idea for them to run a shop entirely by former homeless people:

“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.”


Clive Schlee Blog Rising Stars


“leaving them too exposed…”


for this:


Horrible Company Pret

Further down in the comments


and this:


2018-06-27 Horrible



and this:


2018-01-12 Never Ever



and this:


2017-05-29 Bad experience



and this:


2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole



and this:


2018-10-02 Modern day slavery depression

Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work



and this:


2017-12-20 Avoid AM



and this:


2018-07-06 Head Office PR



and these:


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… and many more compiled on this page.


It doesn’t matter how many “fake” reviewers are employed for Glassdoor, Indeed and other sites. True reviews on horrible work-conditions, naming and shaming shops when they don’t do well, overworked and underpaid workers, all these reviews will always continue unless real change happens for ALL employees, not only for a few selected “Rising Stars” for PR. Regular hardworking staff are being bullied, thrown on the streets, into mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts!


40 percent 63 percent CEO 8Nov18




The Ugly

The ugly part in my work in Pret has topped everything that I ever imagined could have happened in an already traumatic workplace experience. It has shown how toxic, disgraceful, disrespectful and scheming the leadership and HR really is.

I could tell you the estimated date of a man who died in his flat alone and was not discovered until days later when his corpse was already disintegrated to the degree that it wasn’t recommended to view his remains.

I could tell you about a woman who had to learn days later in another country that her brother has died, not knowing at the time what he died of.

I could tell you about a staff member who kept working in Pret, on autopilot, traumatized and trying to come to terms of the untimely loss of a loved one.

I could tell you about that employee and the details of the death, family circumstances, upbringing etc.

I could tell you about this person, but I won’t because this won’t be my story. This is the story of your Development Manager whose dignity you stepped upon by using her to sanction me for my emailing. She then entered into emailing and text messaging, even though she sanctioned me for it. We entered into personal communication because our brothers’ deaths were like a twin story.

But the ugly and frankly perverse part in this is, that she was not asked to get in contact with me for mutual support in our common grief. No, her tragedy was used against my tragedy for your toxic, corrupt and disregarding leadership style to avoid truly caring for your employees.

Unfortunately her conduct was equally abusive as she is also a Hypnotherapist under this governing body and she wanted to use my experience in grief for her psychology studies. And maybe she felt without a choice, with her back against the wall to please HR, maybe out of fear to not be treated favourably or have a career. I don’t know. But it was her choice and problem, and it is not my concern to figure out her motives for playing along with this disgraceful scheme.

I write extensively about this in “The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department“.


The offense upon offense, grief upon grief, loss upon loss I have experienced since my brother died I am still coming to terms with. To be introduced to a colleague who has such a similar loss, to only be tricked and trapped is beyond me. The opportunity Pret A Manger has had, was not only lost, but it was kicked with disregard to truly make an impact that would have led me to write incredibly positive reports, instead of putting a crack into your facade, no amount of trips with the “Rising Stars” will keep your white washed facade in tact.

Your new bosses have now employed the specialists company Headland to help you in how to conduct in public affairs where your previous PR just doesn’t cut it anymore. They were added to help properly communicate without putting the foot in the mouth with sweet-talk and patronizing labels! Yet, what Pret really needs is not another firm to show them how to best keep the facade polished while it is rotten behind it, what Pret truly needs is real leadership that doesn’t have slogans but true ethics and care in place. True leadership that take responsibility, away from all the blaming game Pret is so entrenched in.

The crack in the facade will be fixed again, but there will always be new cracks appearing where the stench of staff mistreatment, toxic work-conditions, a corrupt HR department will ooze out unless the core, the heart of the business is truly changed from the top down.


I cannot bring my brother back, and I certainly will never work in a toxic company again, but I can keep taking my life back and live the freedom to share what happened to me and how many others are struggling to the point of suicide. And I am proud of what I was able to contribute, even while you, Clive Schlee won’t ever admit this. You don’t need to.


You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott


When I made this “video” below earlier this year, I was still in a mental storm of trauma, loss, guilt to have let my brother down, guilt to have been a “burden” to a multi-million pound company still giving the benefit of the doubt and blaming myself. When I made this “video” I just buried my dad around that time and still coming to terms about my brother.

I wrote in grief and blaming myself, where I shouldn’t have. Pret leadership, you are the ones that have all the resources and manpower to support staff that worked for you so long. And I wrote at the end of this video, “I know you have a good heart”, but I take that back, Pret and Clive Schlee because there is no good in the center, at the top leadership levels that allow and enable such pain and disrespect towards hardworking people as well as in the dealings with customers deaths.

Pret needs a heart transplant with a truly good heart at the center of the company to not just aim for profits at the loss of so many. And yet I doubt JAB Holdings will have their heart in the right place. It’s just another profit driven business based in tax-haven Luxembourg and some journalists have woken up.

But I decided to leave my wrong conclusions without deleting the video as you need to be reminded what could have been written from a bereaved former employee who survived your company unlike some others.

Thank you for reading.







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 CEO. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.




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

©2017 – Present:,, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Cry Me A River – Translating Crocodile Tears


drip by drip, drop by dot and blabber…

The performance worthy of an Oscar, that took two years of research and practice.




So touching!





In 2015 Clive Schlee was CLUELESS what to do and patronizing as usual. Only ONE of several customer complaints and warnings before AND even after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s death: 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3



In 2016 which no one in the UK media seemed to have noticed nor researched a man in New York sued Pret quote: “after he a went into anaphylactic shock. He alleges that the restaurant staff served him food containing sesame after assuring him the food was free of the allergen.

—> Pret a Manger hit with lawsuit

The Verdict  (he lost!)

I tweeted about this HERE and mention that from the witness account in the verdict document the supplier of the wrap that contains sesame did NOT need to include sesame in the ingredient as in the U.S. it isn’t law, but in Canada it has to be included. So, the supplier acted responsibly and added it anyway even though by law he did NOT need to, but he included it in case the product was purchased from outside the USA, like Canada for example. Yet, Pret could not be bothered and after this lawsuit and then even after Natasha’s death still did NOTHING!

Witness statement from the supplier from the verdict document, Page 5 (FDA = Food and Drugs Administration):
“We list and perhaps by FDA regulations, we are asked to list or call out any of the ingredients that could be classified as an allergin [sic]. Wheat and soy are classified as allergins in the U.S. In Canada sesame would be included as we really don’t know wh~re stores are, so we put what might be outside this country or at least the border country.”

So, the supplier has sesame included, even though by U.S. law he didn’t need to. And Pret did not list, even though they had the info from the supplier ingredient list on the product.

Sweet-talk of the decade:





The Translation
Of the CEO’s Oscar-worthy performance


Clive Schlee: “I went to the Inquest…”

As if he had a choice!


CS: “and I saw the impact that Natasha’s death had on the family.”

He went, saw and came to the conclusion after two years since Natasha died, that her premature death, which happened on his watch, destroyed a family!


CS: “And it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”




And the Pret Academy Award in a leading role, for the performance that took two years to perfect goes to…


CS: “So, on a personal level I’m devastated.”

Is he, now? After two years ignoring repeated warnings before and even after Natasha’s death.


CS: “But”



CS: “… the coroner”

Oh, the coroner, huh?!


CS: “the coroner asked for a change in the law…”

The coroner blames the law, now? Didn’t the coroner say that Pret’s labelling was inadequate? And further in this “REPORT TO PREVENT FUTURE DEATHS”, quote:
»Regulation 5 allows for food outlets to avoid full food labelling requirements whether they prepare a small number of items in local shops or in the case of Pret, over 200 million items for sale by preparing these items in “local kitchens”. These items prepared in “local kitchens” are in fact “assembled” in large parts from items made in factory style outlets to Pret specifications. I was left with the impression that the “local kitchens” were in fact a device to evade the spirit of the regulation.«

Yes, that about sounds like the Pret I know! And I’m glad someone finally sees that Pret products are not freshly “made” but “assembled” from ready products out of factories into many tiny “factories” sold as “lovingly made in Pret kitchens” bla.



CS: … “the family asked for a change in the law.”

Wow! Dragging the family on his side while Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse said this in response: …He’s not acting fast enough. (Well, he’s ‘acting’ alright) “I would say to anyone with serious allergies or is concerned about allergies … don’t buy a sandwich or go to Pret A Manger, because they’re still holding your life at risk right now!” — Nadim Ednan-Laperouse


So much about “preventing future deaths”!


CS: “And I’m now making changes in PRET that will make that change in the law happen more quickly.”

I must say Clive Schlee has got some balls or deeply lacks the sense of responsibility, to still be in the blaming game Pret-ending to be a “leader” who brings the change after being clueless on what to do!


2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3




CS: … “Probably – probably better.”

Yes, I would stutter, too if I was him!







Pret A Manager – Bad A Manager


I want to shorten some reviews here from the “Pret Poets Society” post to only link to Assistant Managers, General Managers and HQ Staff reviews.

The poor management style that so many Team Members complain about in Pret is enabled from the very top senior leadership and HR, who know exactly how their leaders are. If there is no clear leadership strategy in place, a zero tolerance on bullying and when a large part of Managers are poorly trained, discriminating and especially profit driven, than it becomes very clear that the fish stinks from its head. No company’s top boss can close their eyes and play innocent.

CEO Clive Schlee prides himself on how well he knows his people in this video, and that is why he has no excuse on how the Team Members, as well as Managers are treated! He is not able to say that he doesn’t know as he also visits shops regularly and makes himself approachable to TMs, who often complain directly to him or via his Twitter, risking getting fired for publicly outing their distress. But he does not change the terrible culture as the money keeps pouring in and he pockets £30 Million from the JAB take-over.



Because Pret’s CEO presents himself as this approachable top boss which impresses many, especially young shop based staff, it is like Clive Schlee plays the “good cop” while Managers are the “bad cop”. But both have one goal, make as much money as possible that they can squeeze out of their workers.



When I was going through the darkest, most hellish time in grief and on top being bullied by superiors, I was continuously being placed under bullying managers who supposedly cared. When the shouting didn’t work, they turned their bullying more subtle, by withholding information that I needed as a leader, not inviting me to leaders’ meetings and even Christmas dinner, holding me low with menial tasks, giving me the minimum hours even though I asked for more hours etc. In my traumatic state it took me many months to realize that this was on purpose. Clive Schlee and HR know their managers and placed me accordingly in hopes I would resign, as I was offered four settlements if I resign. There was no care nor interest to have me under empathetic or skilled leadership.

This leadership style is then continued, trickling down through the ranks. So, TMs try to rise up the ladder to escape the horrendous pressure and stress, because they see how managers and even Team Leaders sit in the office. And the incentive of managers getting huge bonuses paid while stressing their staff.

I have seen it countless times how good TMs who were very passionate, kind and hard working changed and got corrupted, once they started moving into management levels and attached themselves to this crowd of “leaders”.


I never wanted to be a manager even though I applied for Assistant Manager roles, but only to escape the bullying culture in shops. I was often asked through the years by many TMs why I wasn’t a manager, as I worked professionally, with skill and knowledge, and many customers often approached me with a query thinking that I was the manager until I pointed them to the plain clothes GM or AM. But I answered the question of why I was not a manager, very simple because I could not do what managers are pressured to do, cut hours and squeeze everything out of teams to maximize profit. And my TMs agreed and understood, as I was always helping my teams, encouraging them, supporting them, even when I was hectic myself at times.




I am glad to not be under such toxic “leadership” anymore!



The worst management often are Managers who come from the outside, from other places like Costa or Nero. They then start straight away as Assistant Managers for a few weeks before being “graduated” as GMs. They work a few weeks or months in the kitchen and do various jobs, but this does not help as they have not been at the very bottom level as a Team Member. But even Managers who started as TMs often turn very sour as I worked with two GMs who were some of the most difficult Managers I had.

The different job roles and how to progress on the ladder I cover in detail in the Pret Poets Society post. But as a short cut briefly:

The hierarchic order to rise up

  • Starting as TM
  • then HFC, Barista or TMT (or any other new job role Pret comes up with)
  • then as FL or KL
  • then as AMF or AMK
  • and finally on shop level as the GM.
  • Beyond this and outside of the shop it goes into area management levels / Operations Manager (OPs).


There are two types of Assistant Managers, as the shop in itself is like a business, and so is the kitchen. In larger busy shops there is the Assistant Manager for the shop floor (AMF), and the Assistant Manager for the kitchen (AMK). Smaller, less busy shops don’t have an AMF and sometimes not even an AMK to save on payroll costs. But this burdens down the Team Leaders as GMs often don’t care, are incapable to even do the ordering. When I returned from holiday many times, the shop stock room was a complete mess, over-ordered or missing stock because the GM filled in for my role and couldn’t do the ordering properly. Initially this was very shocking but also seems the norm. But when I as the Team Leader made a mistake on the ordering, there was immediate trouble from the Manager. No mercy while they themselves couldn’t even do the ordering.

Regarding the Operations Managers (OPs) for the areas, I am not concerned with them whose job it is to pressure the shop GMs, to pressure the FLs/KLs, to pressure the Teams. The typical pyramid of hierarchy trickling down with this “leadership” of fear management to reach higher “productivity” and profit. OPs like to sit in the pub during lunch time, visit some shops here and there to intimidate the hard working teams. They fly out to Dubai or if in the USA to Las Vegas, and throw their parties and receive their immense bonuses. So, I am not concerned with OPs managers who mostly don’t give a toss.



The following Reviews are just those who outed themselves as Assistant Manager, GM, HQ staff and who give an insight into upper and senior management from OPs to HQ.




The Reviews / Complaints

Leaving all mistakes in the reviews to keep it in their own words
and starting with the most recent reviews.

In each job role I highlight a few reviews that really hit the nail on the head.






20. Dec. 2017 LondonAvoid working thereToo much pressure working there , company expects you to do all your job within the time you are schedule but it is impossible , you will end up working hours for free, no work life balance at all , they have he mistery shipper but it is all a fake thing you can not control , the standards are so high the only thing it will drive is you stress everyday . Don’t work there . Cons: Extra hours not paid”

02. Aug. 2017 Manchester, EnglandRespect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”

26. May 2017 NYCPure Misery – The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. The upper management is a bunch of heartless, evil British monsters that take credit for all the positives and assign blame for all the negatives. Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

11. Dec. 2013 NYC “Promotions bases on politics, inconsistency In polices , long hours”

09. Oct 2012 London “Too much pressure and managers with poor interpersonal skills. Respect your team, be patient and keep cool under pressure. Be fair to your team members.”


Highlighted Review:

19. Nov. 2014 LondonWorst company to work forPret was the best company 10 years ago, they were more about the people and it was beat place to work. now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear, the way the company is going it will not last long.
Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.”






07. Juny 2018 A former Senior Manager’s response to my review:


GM response to LNG



03. Feb. 2018High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance


Highlighted Review:

11. Mar. 2017Pret A Manger Reality – Long hours, inexperience Operation Managers.
Companhy values have been lost along do way, bonus scheme not very fair.
Pay raises no fair either,
You don’t get reward for results and work ethic, just if you have a close relationship with your Operation Manager, you are the new hot of the month.
Listen to your people more closely, massive turnover on Pret Managers at the moment and everyone just ignoring the reality, huge unhappiness amoung the managers.

Create and fair and competive process for development.

Opportunity Network for Pret employees, just another flawless (meant flawed) tool at pret, most of the vacancies have people already for them, they want to create an illusion you can develop yourself.

Focus on team members it’s essential, but managers dictated the success on your shops, and drive passion to the team.

HR doesn’t protect the managers.

PIP, pret Partners only people, whom have friends already in, not related if you can contribute to the company, just based on relationships.”

(NOTE: HR doesn’t protect anyone unless it suits Pret’s business.)


15. Nov. 2016 NYCToxic, low class, unprofessional culture – Racist, non-inclusive environment that upper management and hr are fully aware of but ignore.” (NOTE: worth reading this review in full!)


Highlighted Review:

25. May 2016 USA  “Very racist upper management. They make you work 60 hours per week and they don’t pay you for it (just basic salary). They don’t appreciate your work no matter how good you are. Tendency to promote british managers than american ones.
Advise to Management: Open your mind towards american managers. stop racism that is happening to workers. Get involved with the employees and don’t let the operational managers act as they own the people.”

Highlighted Review:

31. Oct. 2015 NYCHorrible training, too many lies. Training sucks, people are treated like crap. Upper management do not care about you, will never recommend this company. Bottom line as a British company they treat employees as machines, they don’t care about how they feel, expect too much for too little. Horrible environment. Treat people with respect and appreciate their hard work. Stop using your British mentality when it comes to deal with people. You’re people are horrible at this.”


20. Apr. 2015 Chicago, IL “Manager- horrible upper management, unrealistic goals, promotions based on politics. Favoritism with managementHiring is based on looks – All push with no supportNo integrity  – A lot of show and dance for support center and president/ceo Your employees will respect you if you offer genuine support. It is all about what your shop looks like when the CEO is in town. Stop favoriting managers, no one respects you for it.”


01. Feb. 2014 “Great company in risk of ruin! Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory. Used to be the most amazing company to work for, a job to be proud of. Now your people work in fear…..its time to listen!



Scrolling to the 23 July 2012 at 12:53 comment, 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret and set the high target of 15% p/a to open all over the place in London specifically.

2012-07-23 Ex GM





HQ London or Offices in other countries


19. Dec. 2017 London Former IT Analyst: “Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”


28. Feb. 2017 NYC Former Purchasing Director: “One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.





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©2017 – 2018, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.



1. Quote of the Day #62 – Pret A Noxious


I decided to do two “quotes of the day” today as they are both from New York within days of each other.





Full review as Quote of the Day:


Go back to the UK, Pret
I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience, HR was mostly a joke, ‘leaders’ displayed zero initiative in mentorship of their teams, roles were unclear and the company had tunnel vision on decision making based on the opinion of one or two people who paid little attention to local market data.



2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018 NY





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

©2017 – 2018, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.





The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department


… and how it poisoned me. What I have survived in a workplace that only cares for profit and the rest is just PR, has traumatized me so much on top of going through personal loss already. I have not dealt with this how I wished I would have, but I had no tools and am still learning how best to deal with this. I haven’t even started to come to terms about my brother and have lost myself in darkness and fear where I couldn’t see right from left.

Even with all the distance now to Pret and a lot of thoughts in hindsight, if I wouldn’t have all this in writing I would still shake my head in disbelief as if I just came out of a long and twisted Hollywood movie.

Regular readers know the story, so this will be a repeat, sorry for this, but I am still recovering and working through it all with the help of Therapy as well as sieving through the writings, emails etc. But I want to move away from writing in metaphors. I used metaphors a lot like the “Pret A Monkey Business” post to help me cope with the blunt memory of this “experience” that had me almost killed and try to make sense what happened and why.




I want to describe what to me was the greatest perversion I have experienced in Pret (or anywhere at that), twisted chain of events I have never experienced in my life anywhere. I lived and worked in three countries, traveled in more, lived and worked with countless people from all walks of life, from various countries, of different ages. I worked in several companies, mostly in the hospitality and service industry, had relationships, friendships, colleagues, bosses and had my share of betrayal and disappointments, like everyone. But I have never ever experienced the level of trauma, intrigue and viciousness that I experienced in Pret A Manger.

This is something I would expect in a law firm and certainly in politics, but a sandwich chain?? Maybe because I never experienced such dishonesty and trickery, I fell for it so easily. But I need to be kinder with myself and not keep blaming myself. Even if I would have experienced anything close to it, I was so traumatized already with the loss of my brother, which in itself was so out of this world, weird, unclear, with puzzle pieces I still have to put together.

Not having known for 5 weeks that he has died and was completely gone, already cremated without our consent in a country as efficient as Germany with its ID system. For us not being found still has me paralyzed how this could even happen. I recently found a video on YouTube where a family in the U.S. went through a similar event, losing a family member, not knowing that he died and was already cremated! I am not consoled that this happened to this family, but not feeling alone in a nightmare like this does help a little.



From the get go of my loss and all the terrible circumstances around it, I had not only no support in Pret apart from the basic stuff the company offers and then later when I contacted the CEO, but I was bullied in shop after shop as this is an issue with leadership which I also listed on one page from other current and former staff members. If a company does not have a clear policy for bereaved employees in place, like it has for pregnant women’s health and safety, a clear stand on homophobic and other discrimination issues, than managers are left to themselves. They have to figure out what to do, and most managers are overwhelmed, not trained, have no confidence which then manifests in leadership avoiding the bereaved at best and get angry at worst, or both. I went through it all.

Early on I approached HR informally to “help” them, where in reality I desperately needed help! I gave suggestions, even looked online for material and passed it on to HR, to managers and to area managers. But in my naive attempt to help them help me, I did not realize how uncomfortable the subject of death and grief is. A bereaved employee, especially if the loss is traumatic, quickly becomes an inconvenience.

Jimmy Edmonds from The Good Grief Project earlier this year shared in a Q&A in cinema where his film about grief was shown, that in Victorian times people frequently spoke about death, dying and grief. It was completely acceptable and normal to talk about death. But it was taboo to talk about sex. And today it’s the complete opposite. With the Good Grief Project they produce films, and travel to share and hear experiences of grief. They make the subject of death, dying and grief accessible in this day and age where we hide from this subject that will come to us all sooner or later. But they don’t do this in a gloomy way, I for one find it very relieving, and paradoxically lively the way they deal with this. It takes the sting out of this inevitable issue.

I wish I’d known their project early on in my own grief and in trying to find my way around the Pret maze where it felt like I was going through a war zone emotionally, and every step I took in a mine field could have been explosive, as it was many times.

I shared in several posts the different situations and bullying I went through. In a nutshell it was everything except physical and sexual violence. But I was shouted at repeatedly by different managers, as this is very common in Pret. I was avoided, not invited to leaders’ meetings, even a leader’s Christmas dinner days after my dad woke from his coma and I returned to London to earn money to visit him again, I wasn’t invited to the dinner. I wasn’t given information that I needed to do my job and when I made a mistake I was solely blamed. I was told off in front of my team as well as in group emails where the area manager was constantly copied in. It didn’t matter how I turned, it was always wrong and I felt with my back against the wall.

In all this I kept blaming myself mixed with the guilt of having let my brother down and silly things like not having replied to his last email to me five weeks before he died. The regret of not having emailed him back, and then five weeks after he died having received the news of his death via an email, all the group emails that my then line manager sent where he told me off several times or blamed me, and then later the emails I read between HR and managers about me. With all these email incidences I started to spiral into an ill emailing sprint that lasted many months.

It became so out of hand that I cried out to a line manager who just shrugged it off and even laughed with the leadership team. I brainstormed with therapist after therapist on how to stop this sickness, they couldn’t even diagnose what this is. Clive Schlee, CEO would later label me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, due to late night emails to Pret (as well as my friends, therapists, anyone). He had a laugh two months before I was dismissed for emailing. I couldn’t stop, I went into a writing cramp again with my dad in a coma, coming to terms with another blow. I only started to come out of this writing cramp when I started this blog.

But the perversion I am speaking about really got to its peak when HR tasked a Development Manager from HQ to give me a disciplinary for the emailing. Up until then the Head of HR & Recruitment would deal a lot with my situation, after I contacted the CEO who then put the Head of HR on my case, as the bullying increased and no manager knew how to be normal, let alone empathetic. I approached HR and managers for almost a year, but was constantly sent away. One particular People Business Partner was heavily involved and already part from the beginning in my first approach to make suggestions to HR. I later raised a grievance against him after I read his emails and his involvement when I applied for my file. But of course it was a waste of time. I was just extremely out-of-sync.

I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, where the same line manager who would tell me off in the group emails and blame me constantly, rebuked me again in front of my team, and I just broke down.

But approaching HR and any leader didn’t help, I was sweet-talked and sent away … again. And I kept apologizing even though I had nothing to apologize for but needed an apology from those who targeted me for months under the guidance of HR. This was then when I finally contacted the CEO, something by the way one can see on Twitter keeps happening where employees contact Pret openly because they don’t get help from their managers or HR.


2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2


2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3




2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1




And one just from yesterday:


2018-11-01 Homophobic Complaint1



— & — Pret’s generic response because it’s public:


2018-11-02 Homophobic Complaint deleted2


I know, I know, I tweet a lot 😉 But the reason for this is that most people still don’t understand the turmoil and because I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again while they had a laugh and I almost killed myself! The tweeting will eventually cease.


But because my concerns and trauma with the managers where constantly ignored or I was sent away, I went into extensive emailing which increased when I drank as I couldn’t cope with the grief and what happened at work. Later I applied for my file as I tried to understand why this happened to me, and one email had me shocked, one of many emails that had me shocked, but this one was from an HR Advisor who was at first involved in trying to put me on performance targets that would lead to disciplinaries, and a disciplinary quickly leads to dismissal, even though I performed extremely well, especially under traumatic bereavement on autopilot. This among the other emails between HR and managers, the email bringing me the news of my brother’s death and the group emails from a line manager had me spiral into emailing, which I explain extensively in another blog entry.

In this email from the HR Advisor to the area manager, the HR person is trying to come up with a plan but wants to first liaise with the PBP who was involved from the beginning and was present in the first informal meeting where I approached HR with suggestions. The HR Advisor even writes that she thinks that my “case” is going to be “very complicated”, meaning because I am bereaved they cannot just get rid of me, at least cut me down from my leadership position, as this would be blunt discrimination and would not look good on the company.

Side note, this HR Advisor later changed direction when she heard MY side for the first time and raised my experience as a grievance against this area manager to whom she wrote that my case would be complicated. But in the grievance hearing she wasn’t present even though she said she would be, which started a whole host of confusion and deeper trauma. This email is a response from the HR person to the area manager who forwarded my email, where I asked for a meeting with my line manager and area manager as the bullying got worse. But not only were they never willing to sit down and speak openly to clear up any misunderstanding there may have been, but they were then even advised by HR to not have any meetings with me until further notice:




Quote for larger print: “Thanks for sending this (my email asking for a meeting) through. I have a few ideas of how to proceed but as I think this is going to be a very complicated case I’ll pick up with XXXX (the PBP involved since the beginning) tomorrow and will get back to you very soon. In the meantime, please can you and XXX (line manager) avoid having any formal/informal meeting with XXX (me) until I get back to you with a plan of how to proceed with this.”


This area manager who targeted me for months, using this line manager and other leaders from the area, would not meet with me, even before this HR person’s request to avoid any meeting with me. She only had one meeting where she held an “informal” meeting while taking notes that she emailed me after the meeting, and in the meeting gave me a list of things that she wasn’t happy with. But this list was completely banal and it looked very obvious that she was targeting me for the tiniest thing, whereas my colleagues made much bigger and more serious mistakes. It was ridiculous, but it traumatized me further because I felt like no matter how I turned, there was a trap laid out. And up until that time the HR Advisor only had the PBP and the area manager’s version of events, until she heard my side and then raised it as a grievance against these managers. But the grievance hearing, the first of many, was a joke, which I cover partly in other blog posts in a sarcastic way where Pret has all these “How To Cards” for every peep and poop micromanaging the staff. I just turned it around.


Fasting forward, after all my emailing and the continued bullying where I continued to be avoided, not given important info, not invited to meetings, my hours cut to minimum, even though I was desperate to work more as my finances were low since my brother died. I used all my savings for travel, bills etc. I became suicidal and had several close calls where I would leave work to go home but headed straight for the bridge.

HR then came up with the most perverse “plan” that I still have to get my head around. I scratched on this and wrote extensively, but more in metaphors to come to terms. Using a Development Manager to give me a disciplinary, she told me in the hearing that she also had a brother who died in his flat and was not discovered until days later. Just like my brother. Our stories are so similar that I broke and embraced the disciplinary assuming Pret now really supports me. I was so ill with the emailing and wanted to get away from this writing cramp, that I felt supported after all the pretense support since involving the CEO. I even improved and moved away from emailing for a while as I bought this trick thinking they supported me. But in reality they stepped on her and my dignity, using a bereaved employee against another bereaved employee, especially with such similar stories (if it’s true, I don’t even know anymore). Instead of getting us connected to support each other in our common grief which they could have easily done, they just used her against me. I still feel sick to my stomach even while writing this.

She gave me the disciplinary for my emailing but the next day entered into secret contact with me, even though HR of course knew as this was the plan, not to support me (and her) but to get rid of me as a disciplinary is the first step towards dismissal. And not only did she enter into private contact, she did solely via text message and email for which she sanctioned me in the first place! Hello??!! I don’t have to explain how confusing and distressing the following weeks and months became. To make it worse, she allowed Pret to use her personal loss and went further by manipulating me and what a Psychologist assessing me labeled as her “abusing” me. This Development Manager is a Hypnotherapist (registered under the National Hypnotherapy Society), an NLP practitioner (as several managers in Pret are) and in 2017 studied to become a Psychotherapist. Hypnotherapy and NLP can easily be used to manipulate people, and they did that well.

Early on in our secret contact, as she wasn’t allowed to be in private communication as the hearing manager (but Pret of course knew unofficially), she wanted to meet up and interview me for an Essay on anger that she wrote for her university studies. She thought it would be great to have my input as I was very angry because of how my brother died and all the mystery about it, and the added turmoil with Pret. Of course I was angry! But I declined being interviewed as I didn’t know her and didn’t want to be her guinea pig. And from the beginning all of this was confusing, but I was so traumatized, in dark grief, anxiety, confusion, I couldn’t put two and two together, like I can now in hindsight and distance.

I did file a tribunal claim but withdrew which I explain in this post. And that is one reason why Pret does not block me on Twitter, so they can use all my Tweets in court should I file a second time. I have declined four settlement offers in turn to be silent and never go to court, including going to court against the Development Manager who is protected in her job regardless what she has done and allowed them to do through her.

But most every leader, HR person, this Development Manager while not having a clear policy to protect bereaved employees against discrimination, most of them were picking and choosing what for them was “useful”. The Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help (before I realized the game they were all playing) and in the first meeting he asked me to score on a scale of 1 – 10 how it was meeting with him. Again, confused about a question like this I wasn’t impressed to meet with a “big gun” as I just wanted my line managers to be confident and normal with me, not bullying and avoiding me. I wasn’t interested in scratching his ego because he is wohooo a big gun meeting with a “plastic pistol”! And the first time he offered me a settlement, when he left he wanted a “cuddle”, and again I just thought what does he want? Does he want me to leave or does he want a cuddle?! He can’t have both!

Or an area manager who after she got to know me wanted to stay in contact even if I left Pret as she said I have so much insight into many things. And yet this area manager held a dodgy grievance hearing where I met her initially and later forwarded my emails to my line manager who also held me low.

Or the Development Manager wanting my input for her Psychotherapy studies.

Or a line manager who would not let me leave his shop because I worked so well and helped bring success to his shop, he would not let me leave even after I raised a grievance against him. I had to firmly beg to get a transfer as I couldn’t work under his manipulative ways anymore.

I was like a supermarket for them where these “leaders” just helped themselves! My confidence was completely lost with the death of my brother and what happened in Pret. Anyone who has gone through loss, especially a traumatic loss will have the ground pulled from underneath their feet. You feel like you are on an emotional free-fall and never hit the ground. Everything is insecure, existential fears, even if irrational, are magnified ten times over. One of my line managers would laugh when I had a minor panic attack in the shop. He just laughed and said “Haha, I never saw you that scared” laughing further… Sure it was his insecurity, but what the f***!!!! They used my vulnerability well and trampled on my dignity repeatedly! I even would apologize where I had nothing to apologize for. I was just on constant electricity, hyper vigilant and in a panic mode.

This is why at times I have completely wiped out my Facebook and Twitter followers, because I fell into this paranoia of fear, thinking what the heck do people want from me. Of course it is stupid and irrational, but it’s my only explanation why I act like this at times, especially when I drank something. So, that’s another thing I’m working on, but it is much better. To all who have been “kicked out” from Twitter and / or Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me! Apologies again! Of course some people I have blocked consciously as they were either trolls or disrespectful.

This perversion of this toxic HR department using a Development Manager, who isn’t even an HR personnel, who lost her brother like I lost mine in such similar circumstances, has topped everything they have done. It is beyond me how educated, elitist people, from wealthy to middle class backgrounds with university degrees and even Therapists backgrounds, can stoop so low to use and be used in such undignified ways. It is amazing. The Development Manager could and should have declined doing the disciplinary and instead offered to support me outside the sanction. But she chose to play their game, maybe out of fear, maybe she got a promotion, a pay-rise, she certainly has gotten the protection of the Head of HR. But whatever her reason, she should have been woman enough to respectfully decline and asked to not be the hearing manager as she had personal conflict.

Pret will find a way to get back at me for making this public. So be it! I neither fear them, nor have anything to lose anymore, and any job reference they will do to my disadvantage, I am not in the slightest bothered anymore. And they will come with another trick in the future, @ Pret I wholeheartedly don’t care whatsoever.

People get hurt in such traumatic and dishonest ways. I have lived long enough to know that corrupt people and companies will get their fair share of exposure sooner or later. I am not worried about that at all. Even hiding two customers deaths under the carpet and not dealing with the allergen label promptly says it all!



You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott



This is my story and I take the liberty to share it with the world after having given 10 years of my life to a company that was not worth my while. The last three year in Pret where so traumatic and surreal like living in Twilight Zone! I still don’t know how I survived this and am still recovering. Pret and any company or person forgets that when you don’t support the vulnerable, be it children, the elderly, sick people or traumatized and bereaved people, when you step on them while they are already on the ground, the time will come where children grow up and the vulnerable will become strong again if they survive. And then they will share their experience and/or retaliate through court or publication, standing up with other sufferers in unity. And with Pret I believe the time will come where more people will cut through the bull-crap and say enough is enough, and overcome the fear and intimidation of these giants, who in reality are dwarfs hiding behind their inflated shadow of fear management.




Anyone who has come in contact with me has also been at the receiving end of my irrational fears and paranoia, especially when I drank something. I fall into this extreme fear of not knowing who to trust, as what Pret has done has so messed with my head, that I feel like a human going through an alien zone trying to figure out who’s the human and who’s the alien masquerading as a human. Sounds whacked up I know, but this is how I can describe it. Pret’s HR department especially are so skilled in being nice on the front, while behind this is another motive. Maybe I was this dwarf that became a deflated giant scaring people unnecessarily!

And many of you are very kind and patient, and I will always be indebted to you for this, and in time I will “repay” you for your kindness!

Thank you for reading and if I can give anyone any advise, join a Union and trust yourself, no matter how messed up you feel or indeed are!



Update 10.11.2018

A review from a former Pret staff from NYC who puts it in brief and better words than my long posts:


2018-11-01 Go back to UK



Substantial list of staff complaints from other websites.



UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.






Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

We spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.




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

©2017 – Present –, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Serving is Beautiful




I saw this film in the U.S. when I lived in Florida in the Noughties. I remember so well that I strolled into the living room where my house mates were watching a film, and I just joined them. The film was already quite a bit in, at least 30 minutes or so. And as the theme of the movie was very familiar to me, I just watched.

I grew up with documentaries on Hitler, Nazis, the Holocaust, crimes that humanity will not forget. So, seeing the familiar pictures just let me sit and watch if there was any new thing unfolding.

And it was.

The fictional, yet beautiful story of a father who promised his little son a tank when he wins a game they were playing.

The catch was, the son had to play-pretend a hide and seek game during WWII after being captured by the Nazis. In order to win, the main rule of the “game” was that he had to hid and be silent. What the son didn’t know was that he had to play being silent in order to survive. And if he won the game of being the most silent player, he’d see a tank as a reward!

The spoiler is (close your eyes), the son did see his reward in the end.

He lost his dad, though, but as the writer and director (main character) wanted, the little kid at least saw a tank.

For all of you who are reading this, you go like wtf…

I got it…

So, I spare you with explaining my education in history in front of a TV watching what Germany’s crime was and why the world keeps using this as an example of evil, and how all the other nations closed their eyes to it. And I’m proud that my dad forced us to watch the atrocities and not close our eyes.

But rewinding back to the movie “Life is Beautiful” … there is one scene that I always think of when I think of this movie. Before being captured, the father tried to get a job in a nightmare situation during occupation, he was being trained as a waiter, and his superior who trained him said an unforgettable thing about humility, dignity, self-respect and strength: “God serves men but he’s not a servant to men“.

This is what I always tried to portrait to my teams when I was a team leader in Pret and saw their frustration with customers that at times were rude and disrespectful. I’d remember this scene and also told my team that they serve customers but they are not their servants when my colleagues felt humiliated by them.

When hard-working people are called the C-word, the loud music makes a customer tweet instead of asking the shop staff politely to turn down the volume, a customer who wants a fuzzy warm feeling and staff to smile to all customers … and Pret does the thing they do, “prostituting” their values while claiming of “doing the right thing naturally“.

In the service industry, people serve people, but they are not their servants.









2018-10-24 Re No Smile




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

©2017 – 2018, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Doing the PR[et] Thing Naturally


My 10 years in Pret A Manger which has always been stressful, trying to figure out why it felt so toxic and negative in this company, and this long road in hardship at work has taught me to not give Pret the benefit of the doubt anymore, as I did too many times. The last three years have been extremely traumatic after I lost my brother and on top of this being bullied in Pret, which I explain extensively on this blog and which will turn into a chronological book, as the story is very complex. But it was important for me to put the story out in creative writing as best as it comes out, and to do it publicly as I was in these last years balancing on the edge of life. Even if life ends prematurely due to illness, accident, while my suicidal thoughts will be left behind, I want the public to know what happened to me in Pret, and not take my ordeal to the grave, apart from what my friends know and witnessed through my distress. I also collected numerous staff reviews on the bullying culture in Pret and listed them onto one page for easy access to each review.

When people learn of my experience, the question comes up if I went to court against Pret. I explain that I did and then withdrew for these reasons in this blog entry.

The other question that comes up is why on earth I stayed so long in this environment that almost killed me. I scratch on this in several blog posts but will write an extra blog entry on this in more detail. Watch this space.

Many people who read my story don’t know what to do with it, let alone what to say. Understandably. My writings sound angry at times, and they are, but I am not the “monster” that people may view me from afar with my loud and public outcry. I am actually a very peaceful person who loves and cares deeply about people, even if this doesn’t look like it. This probably was one reason why I struggled so long in Pret and approached them internally, even in ill emailing out of trauma and a drunken stupor later on. But my integrity and my honest, even if weird approach was to my disadvantage. And yet integrity and honesty is what I am proud of, it didn’t make me rich, but it makes me sleep at nights.

I don’t have a nice front to show you, I don’t plaster my life with a nice facade while rotten inside. I show you ‘my’ back first (this website picture is not me of course). For 10 years I was forced to smile in Pret, even during traumatic bereavement. There was no mercy from my line managers. The Mystery Shopper, who is sent weekly to each store with the assignment to let the shops know if the Team Member smiled, made eye-contact, made some small-talk even during extreme busy times, is the main contributor to the “friendly” hell that I and all shop staff went and go through. Of course I would have loved to wear a badge one can apply for to use the public transport in London. A badge like pregnant women or people with a disability wear that says, “Baby on board” or “Please offer me a seat”, as the pregnancy or disability is not always or immediately visible to assist the person who may be in pain or uncomfortable in general.



BabyBoard    tfl-please-offer-me-a-seat-badge-and-card



In my trauma and bereavement I wish I could have worn a badge that said, “Please offer me a smile for a change” or “Abnormal load on board” or “In grief, please be kind” or “Please help me I want to die” …

I collected a list of Staff Complaints from external Employment Review sites as well as YouTube, Twitter and other websites. I did an extra category on the forced happiness and another on the fake smiles that Team Members are tasked to perform. And customers are so impressed with the service, not knowing what is the driving “force” behind the happiness con. The amount of times I and team members were summoned into the office or kitchen, away from the customers, and then told off when we didn’t smile.

I had a good telling off in the office after the Mystery Shopper (I call them Misery Shopper) commented that I should stay home when sick as I couldn’t smile because I was coughing. Mystery Shoppers either don’t know or don’t care that weekly paid staff are not paid sick-leave the first 2 or 3 days (depending which age) when sick, no matter if they have a sick note from the GP. Sure, there are what Pret calls “well-being days” depending how long you worked in Pret and other times at the discretion of the GM, but for things like having a cold or illnesses that take 2 or 3 days to recover, you have to make a choice if you want to stay in bed to recover and lose income, or drag yourself to work and then be told off for not smiling because you coughed!

Excerpt of the Mystery Shopper’s comment after I served the MS and coughed:


2014-12-01 MS cough

Quote in larger print: “Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”


It was also impossible to “feel cheerful” when my boss was constantly telling me off for the smallest issues and then ordered me to go out to the shop floor and smile. It was even more impossible to “feel cheerful” when I just buried my brother and there was no mercy from my superiors nor from HR. And the line manager who warned me verbally in the office after the above comment on my coughing, countless times being told off, never once asked “how are you, are you ok?” And I did it, I smiled again and again and again and again and again and again…, and received many compliments from customers as well as Mystery Shoppers, while neither of them knew what turmoil and trauma was raging inside me. No customer would have guessed that I left work after my shift and walked towards a bridge, wrestling with life.


I even received a thank you card with a £20 note inside from a customer pair whom I served in a shop where I helped out for a week. This card I received WHILE in the middle of the darkest time, it was about 8 or 9 months after the news of my brother’s death AND the middle of being bullied by my superiors. I didn’t let it show and have to say as well that these two customers, who sat in that shop every day working on their laptops as they were graphic designers, were extremely pleasant. They made my job very very easy and cheered me up the best I was able to relax during trauma. They were a fantastic distraction and kind people. In my ten years in Pret, these two people come to mind immediately when I think of a nice customer experience. This exchange was brief but very organic.

We chatted every day as they sat in the shop for hours using the Wifi for their work. And they spent quite some money everyday, buying food and coffee, work some hours, buying some sweets and another coffee, work more hours, buying another drink etc. Every day they spent a good amount, not like some students on a budged who would buy the cheapest item just to use the free Wifi for hours. On my last day for that week I told them that it was my last day and where my usual shop is so that they won’t be surprised why I wasn’t there anymore as we had lots of conversations and laughs in-between.

They never knew my loss and the added turmoil I went through in Pret. As sad as it is, but this card was my life-line for a while. I put it on my desk at home to remind me that my service wasn’t as bad as my superiors tried to make me believe. I knew how good I was at my job and with my teams, with all my mistakes, flaws and shortcomings as well. But when you go through loss AND bullying on top of it, you lose the floor underneath your feet and all, absolutely all self-esteem and self-confidence disappears. So, as sad as it is, but this simple card heaved me out of a black hole many a times, and I wish I had a way to let the customer know what a small gesture like this did to me, I didn’t care for the money, but his words were life to me as I became increasingly suicidal! When they learned that it was my last day, he briefly left the shop, returned and gave me this card. Later in the office when reading this after closing time, I broke down and sobbed:


PK Customer Card Aug 2015 AldgateEast_smudged


It is an extremely rare occasion for customers to go out of their way to acknowledge staff like this. I’ve seen customers giving gifts to my colleagues as well throughout the years, but it is extremely rare and mostly happens around Christmas time.


And with the Mystery Shoppers, I kept these MS comments because of that same area manager who targeted me during the darkest time, saying that I didn’t engage my teams, and yet countless MS comments as well as regular customers said otherwise:


2012-10-12 MS 1


Another year, different MS:

2012-10-12 MS 2


These two and much more MS reports were my protection as my name was on them, and even if my name wasn’t mentioned, I was on the shift the days of these and other comments as the responsible Team Leader running the shifts. Again, it is sad that I had to keep those for my protection against bullying superiors who tried to look for the smallest issue to get rid of (for them) inconvenient staff.

Of course there is some true smiling going on as well, especially within the teams who often work very well together, trying to protect each other from the line managers who tend to kiss upward and kick downward. But the job in Pret involves having to smile no matter what, or as one of my GMs (General Manager) once told us off in the kitchen saying that, “Your smile is part of your uniform” while he never smiled when serving customers.


Pret Uniform2

The Pret A Mask Staff Uniform Cupboard


This is the reality behind the smiles of team members where even during bereavement, depression, illness and a personality that may not be naturally cheerful, you have to smile. You either develop superhuman capabilities or mental illness. And I’m sure you’ll figure which one of the two is more likely. Anyone would know that no-one can smile and be happy for 8 hours straight, let alone in a high stress, fast-paced, brutal work environment; LET ALONE during bereavement and mental strain! But the public loves to buy this facade, because it is so easy to be lulled in. So easy.


And just when I finished the majority text of this draft today, I see this Tweet from a customer who is appalled at the poor service and lack of smile, even naming the Team Member, and Pret of course in a generic cut & paste response will pass this on to the GM in that shop. And Adil S. will find himself in the office today or tomorrow depending on when he is in the shop. The GM or even AM will most likely not ask Adil how he is doing, if he has any problems or issues, if everything okay? Adil might have just buried a loved-one and his boss is even aware of this, or certainly he might have just been in the middle or just finished an extremely busy coffee morning, or he might have just come out of the office where his line manager had a go at him. And there certainly is no guarantee that he will find any mercy or empathy from his boss after this Tweet below where he is named publicly!

The customer does not give a second’s thought on why Adil was rushing and not smiling and not giving the customer a “warm feeling” and “naturally smiling” to ALL customers. And why should he, he paid a lot of money for cheap coffee. The customer will most likely also respond to my comment angrily, as my pointing out that Adil, or any staff member at that, might be going through hell. It may burst his bubble and that it may be too much to give a warm feeling to a staff member who cannot share what may be going on in his life.

Many customers do recognize how intensely busy it is during a Pret morning coffee rush. It is called a coffee “rush” for a reason. On an average busy morning, especially when the GM cut staff, I myself alone served approximately 25 – 30 people in a 15 minute period which was visible in the system for later scrutiny by managers. This means on an average I served between 80 – 100 customers within an hour during extreme busyness.

If any reader here is a regular customer in Pret and thinks I am exaggerating, do an experiment, go to any Pret, especially the really busy ones and go when you know the busiest time is in the morning or lunch time, as this varies a little bit from shop to shop. Sit close to the till area where you can easily observe the Team Members. Take a stop watch, pick the fastest Team Member and time them within a 15 minute period. It will be hard to concentrate only on one Team Member, but give it a go. Count how many customers (transactions) this TM serves in that time. And I specifically mean the busy morning coffee rush and / or the busy lunch time rush, not the more quieter afternoons and evenings or the quieter time after the morning and before the lunch rush.

One can do the math throughout the day including the busy lunch “rush”. But from the log on the system, I often did around 500 – 600 transactions (1 transaction with the minimum of 1 customer, but often serving more than 1 person per transaction, serving a family or friends, but the number showed as per transaction, not per customer) in a 6, 8 or 10+ hour shift. Every day!

PLUS all the customers that you spoke to that weren’t logged as transactions via the till system, people who approached you by the fridges with a question. PLUS customers who called in on the phone with a query. PLUS customers who knew you were staff even when you were on your break and with your Pret uniform covered up, customers still approached you with a question during your break……. and dare you decline to help them during your break, being worn out, exhausted after busy breakfast and lunch rushes!! How quickly do customers tweet to Pret about any and every peep that bothers them. It’s safe to say that I myself alone was dealing with around 1000+ people EACH DAY plus my team and bosses…………..

And you are required to smile for EACH and EVERY customer. The Mystery Shopper will make sure you do, while also making sure you keep eye contact AND have a little conversation! In all this you are expected to be natural, not robotic.

Forget the “aim” to “connect”, if you don’t smile you get into trouble. One comment here from the MS on a colleague who was a very hard working Team Leader herself in her service, but I have had similar comments on my service like this as well. And no matter how hard you worked or how good your service was before and after you happened to serve the MS, reading those comments discouraged you further, not to mention your boss telling you off later:


Mystery Shopper poor comments

Quote: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The only conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming, the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engage[d] and positive, the team member could have given me a friendly remark or made small talk.”


I know that this team leader also had 500-600 transactions each day on top of her leadership responsibilities as we were always looking at our till reports if we were too slow or even too fast. Total nightmare and the most ungrateful, unrewarding and dehumanizing job. Autopilot happens and it turns into mental illness.


Yes, customers pay a lot of money, they deserve the minimum of a decent service, as in fact every paying customer, as well as the homeless person does who asks for a free Tea which happens all the time. Every person deserves respect and the best service possible. But again, the bullying environment in Pret, cutting staff to maximize profit, overworking and stressing staff to breaking point … no one wants to know about this. It’s all about “me, myself and I”. No thought of my fellow man and woman. Let’s just name, shame and blame them publicly, right?

I know of one suicide of a staff member, I almost ended my life as well, as my regular readers know my story by now. Others have repeatedly reviewed on the stress, depression, anxiety etc. working in Pret, and I cannot help thinking of how many more may have ended their lives or became suicidal, even after they left Pret or got fired and broke.

So, I keep my fingers crossed for Adil, and hope the feedback he receives will be constructive, not pulling him down further as GMs don’t like the “shame” of feedback like this from HQ via a public Tweet. I certainly know how it is to get pulled down in the office by my bosses because of a Tweet, or customers writing in because their day got ruined for whatever reason…


Today’s Tweet from a customer to Pret:


2018-10-24 Re No Smile


2018-10-24 Re No Smile2

Link to Tweet


And who is the best in this smile and friendliness? Of course Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret. What Ronald McDonald is to lure kids to McDonald’s, Schlee is to Pret. His job is to present (and Pret-end) this happiness and friendliness, and portray to the public that Pret is a lovely place that provides “good jobs for good people”. And he paints this facade extremely well.

But he doesn’t stop there, he goes the “extra mile” and takes the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable and broken ones, homeless people (mainly young people) off the street, offers them jobs, flies them out to Austria where he has property, hikes with them and then making nice photos to show what a great company Pret is, and how well he and Pret cares for staff.


Some free PR on the house:


2018-10-20 Careful 2 Integrate Homeless1



How easy it is, as a millionaire business man to take the most vulnerable people, shower them with good deeds and an overdose of luxury, and then post this on his blog and on Twitter. And the public goes ‘Aaaawww isn’t that lovely’.

In the meantime staff across the board in Pret shops and kitchens are bullied, overworked, underpaid, have to work overtime without pay. And when they complain they are being threatened with their job security; disciplinaries are handed out like napkins, hardworking and loyal staff being unfairly dismissed and put on the streets, fear management is thriving, staff becoming suicidal etc. etc. Selected quotes from the long list of staff complaints, as well as my traumatic experience that I survived.

That is why Schlee writes on his blog of the idea for the Rising Stars (well sounding slogans) to run a shop by themselves, as solely former homeless from the manager down to the kitchen and shop staff and that Pret is “careful to integrate” them into shops. I write about why Pret is careful to integrate them in this blog entry more extensively.

But in a nutshell, for people who were homeless, vulnerable, have mental challenges and traumas to overcome, for them to work in the mainstream shops could catapult them right back on the streets as the work environment in shops and kitchens is brutal. So, when these Rising Stars run shops entirely with solely former homeless people on staff, they would be treated not as harsh as mainstream shops with high targets and unrealistic expectations. These Rising Stars would get an easier ride.

Thus, the well oiled PR[et] machine puts on its famous smile and portrays to the public what a lovely company they are. And yet, reality looks very different as I share my traumatic survival of Pret and all the staff reviews I collected unto one page. I keep referencing back and forth with links so that the reader doesn’t need to take just my word for it and because many people are new readers. This is so appalling because instead of making it easier across the company, treating ALL people with respect and kindness, and in this way still be really successful, the Rising Stars are treated softer, while the mainstream shops continue to suffer, and who knows how many ended up on the streets after they broke.

The CEO is very aware of how it is in shops, as he also visits shops regularly. One approach also is that shops are named, shamed and blamed when things go wrong like poor Health & Safety results. Of course shops are also named when they do extremely well as an incentive to make shops jealous to compete and raise the profit. But the atmosphere is hellish and I was able to take it for a long time while I had a “normal” life, not taking this home too much. But when my life got turned upside down when my brother died, this became a roller coaster that I don’t know how I survived this.


Only some of the many collected “reviews” on Pret’s work conditions:


This person keeps appearing on several YouTube comments regarding Pret (like I do on Twitter). One comment from YouTube scrolling down in the comments:


2018-07-24 RPQ now Branzinotito comment on James Hoffmann video






2012-07-23 Ex GM





Cons: “Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”


2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery



A very blunt but true review:


2018-07-12 Quote Pret #17


… Compiled with more reviews along those lines collected on the usual page I created.


The way Pret and the CEO dealt with two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal, ignored numerous complaints and warnings regarding allergen and the lack of labelling, that only once the deaths became public and people started to boycott Pret, some even saying they will never shop there again, only then does Pret start slowly to trial labelling each product. And yet, each item has been labeled with full allergen guide for the homeless each night since years. The main characteristic in Pret is to make shop staff and customers responsible to figure out what is in the products. The homeless and  / or people in need cannot check after closing time nor do many have access to the Internet to check for allergen information online. So, staff and customers while in the shops are made responsible to search for ingredient and allergen information. A typical Pret “behaviour” to blame downwards should things go wrong.


2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2



I am all for taking homeless people off the streets, please do. Please help people back into jobs and get accommodation. But please, while you are doing this, also include homeless people who are in their 40s and 50s and not just in their 20s where your investment may pay off longer! There is too much discrimination going on, and even while older people are not as easily molded and brainwashed anymore, as they have a zero-tolerance on bullshit with their life experience, your reputation would get a better shine in the long-run. And yes, take them to Austria, Stonehenge, Hawaii or to the freaking moon if you can, but to take the most vulnerable for PR while regular shop staff are suffering, is the greatest hypocrisy and self-serving thing! If I was a former homeless person, I would be ticked off being used for PR[et] like this.

The catering and hospitality industry is already stressful as it is, but the unnecessary stress is what makes this so terrible and the PR facade so ugly, once the reality behind this facade comes to light.


Former IT-Analyst’s December 2017 review of HQ and Top Leadership:


2018-07-06 Head Office PR



My story at least I will tell again and again because it took 10 years of my life to come to a point to not give Pret, and indeed any company with double-standards, the benefit of the doubt anymore. I have to say though that I never experienced this turmoil in any company until I came to Pret. Maybe this is why it took me so long and such a traumatic journey to finally conclude that Pret was not worth my while.


I want to end on a positive note this time. I was at a gig yesterday of one of my favourite artists whose music has gotten me through a lot of dark times. I used her song “The Greatest” on a ‘video’ I did for my brother shortly after I learned that he died, and which I posted at the bottom of this page for him. My website here, which started and also still goes under, used to be all about my brother with a lot of poems I wrote and videos I made in my trauma, until the thing took over. I will eventually turn it back into my sole tribute page for my brother and re-upload all the poems and videos that I posted before, as well as now also for my father who died in March this year.

But I had a little chat with this artist two days ago at a signing she did at Rough Trade East, London. I am not a fan of getting an autograph as this doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t ask for autographs, even though I met some artists that I love. Artists scribbling their name for a stranger on something doesn’t mean anything to me. But a small conversation, as little as 2 minutes means the world to me.

But as this was specifically a signing, it would have been a little bit odd not to take some of her albums for signing. Exchanging words was more important from human to human than any autograph could have been written into stone. Yesterday in the Roundhouse the thing she said at the end resonates so much with me. It wraps up my wasted years in Pret and my aim to not waste my short life on brutal and self-serving people or companies:


“Take care of yourself and those who love you. We spent sometimes our entire life taking care of those who don’t really even give the tiniest little shit about us. Make sure you take care of yourself and those who love you.”

Cat Power


Thanks, Chan! I will!

Chin up!


Roundhouse, London 23. Oct. 2018



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

©2017 – 2018, unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.


Questions to Pret A Manger


Since Twitter is limited in the amount of words that can be used and on Facebook Pret tends to delete my comments, I’d just like to expand my questions here and just link to it.

I used to get told off and “corrected” from line managers in front of colleagues, one GM in particular would repeatedly do this, to which I kept asking to please give me feedback in person not in front of my team. This particular GM would say that he “feed-backs” me in front of the team for their benefit, so that they learn from my mistakes. Apart from this being complete nonsense, incapable management and plain wrong, I understood his bullying mentality and insecurity.

And I am sure Pret is not keen on answering my questions, certainly not directly, I’d like to take this “example” be it poor as it is, and do the same thing. For the sake of the public, so they learn from your mistakes, I’d like to ask you publicly again a few questions.

After I was bullied during bereavement in all its forms, shouted at, excluded from leader’s meetings as well as a leaders Christmas dinner (when my dad just woke from his coma and I returned to work and was put on late shifts to cover for them to have their dinner), information withheld that I needed in order to do my job, held low in jobs where I could not grow and thrive, hours cut to zero during Christmas time even though I was on a 35 hour contract needing money to visit my dad again, hours not paid that I had to chase, the patronizing approach from Clive Schlee, CEO who labelled me his “late night girl”, the lies and dodgy grievance hearings, after all this bullying under the guidance of HR and the Head of HR & Recruitment, after all this mistreatment you tasked one of your Development Managers to sanction me supposedly because of my emailing, for which your CEO labelled me his “late night girl” two months before you dismissed me.

Your Development Manager, who also is a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner (as several of your leaders are) and in 2017 studied to become a Psychotherapist, was put on my case because she had a brother who died in his flat and was not discovered after days later, just like my brother died and was in his flat for days before his corpse was found.

She was put into contact with me, not so we could support each other in our common grief, but so that I would be able to receive the disciplinary as I would be more receptive since we have the same loss. This which I already put forward to your Director of HR, I called “perversion” for lack of a better word. I had to learn later that this was gaslight in its most primitive form.

Your Development Manger, who is governed under this therapy body, then entered into personal communication with me right from the next day onward which was secret, even though you all knew about it of course. This confused me further. Not only did she enter into unallowed contact, but she solely communicated with me via text messages and email, for which she sanctioned me in the first place!

Fasting forward a few months, I of course got dismissed (with my dad in intensive care just out of a coma) while she is safe in her job as she served HR well. She even at times sounded like the Head of HR, saying things only the Head of HR knew and vice versa.

Now my question is, as I am not sure anymore what to believe because there were so many lies from you from the top down, did she really have a brother who died very similar to how my brother died and the delay in her learning about his passing, like in my case as well?

If she did have a brother and all she told me about him and the situation, why did you step on her dignity by using her against me, instead of for me and her being able to have open, not in secret, support in our grief. Her brother (supposedly) died 2 months before my brother died, in his flat, alone, for days undiscovered… like a twin story. And yet your core value of “doing the right thing naturally” … NATURALLY … I still have to let that word melt on my tongue… is such a disgrace and arrogance I have rarely come across.

If she did not have a brother and made up this story to really fuel the gaslight, than she is a bad person.

But if she did have a brother and everything she told me was like it was, than she is even worse than a bad person, because she should and could have declined the task of sanctioning me to protect her as well as my dignity.

I certainly would have declined and offered instead to be available for support and open contact with respect and integrity.

What this also particularly bad is how manipulative she was. Right from the start of our secret contact she wanted to meet me to interview me for an assignment she was writing for university as she was studying to be a Psychotherapist. She was writing an essay on anger and wanted my input as I was very angry with everything surrounding my brother’s death and being bullied on top of it.

I declined being interviewed as I didn’t know her, no matter how similar our losses were, but I also didn’t want to feel like a guinea pig for someone’s projects and from the get go I was confused about her role. A friend even warned me that Pret may be using her to “spy” on me to see how best to fire me. But I was so blinded from grief and all that happened at work that I fell for this trap that sounded too good to be true that someone with such an identical loss could be even in the same company.

She later declined showing me her essay as I was interested what her take on anger was. Her reasons for not showing it to me was supposedly because she wanted to protect the volunteers who participated in the interviews. And yet, an essay or book is usually written with changed names and even if the first names were real, I wouldn’t know anyone anyway. So, from all the lies and manipulations I reckon she used my story anyway against my permission.

My aim since May 2015, when I approached HR informally to make suggestions on how to support bereaved staff not only put a target on my back. I would enter further and further into troubled waters from superiors in the years to come, but Pret’s non-existent bereavement support program involves using one bereaved employee against another in the most disgraceful way! Perhaps they bribed the Development Manager either with immunity if any future disciplinary against her would come up, or she got that promotion she had an eye on for some time, as she worked in Pret’s HQ since over 15 years. She certainly got the personal protection from the Head of HR who would manipulate and tweak my situation on several occasions, leaving me like a lamb up for slaughter under incapable management. Only she knows why she not only allowed HR to use her, and even went further to take advantage of my story in her university studies.


And that is what makes Pret, Pret:





… and HR takes this to even more lofty heights:



Right Thing Naturally


PR, slogans, lies, dishonesty, tricks and traps, disrespect of dignity, lack of integrity behind a facade…

So, those are my questions regarding the Development Manager, did she really have a brother whose story in death was so similar to my brother’s, and if so why did you step on her and my dignity as well as her allowing this.

As you know you got away with it from reaching court as I cannot deal with this mentally without a lawyer and having buried my dad in March. I finally completely broke down. But I can write and ask and expose and share…


The other question that keeps burning in my heart which I already addressed you while working in Pret, was the incident one of your People Business Partners told me in an appeals hearing where I raised a grievance against another PBP, which of course was a waste of time, but at least I gave it my best. The PBP in the hearing told me about an assistant manager who was bereaved and mistreated on top of this at work and raised grievances, just like I was. He had the audacity to not only compare me with her, but judging her as well as me to be bitter, because we raised grievances.

I later emailed him as I was speechless in the hearing when he told me this, and wrote that she is not bitter, but in a lot of pain as I could relate to that. I deeply regret not having tried to get in contact with her to support her. But you know, Pret, I was so traumatized, not ready to give any help or assistance to anyone, I was so lost myself, whereas you have all the money, resource and manpower including your Development Manager who is a therapist… I had no strength nor mental capacity to help.

And my question again that I raised before, is this AM the same AM who a few months later ended her life in suicide?