Okay okay, I know, I keep butchering Pret A Manger’s name, and it’s silly, I just like to return the favour after having been emotionally and mentally dismantled.
I don’t do much advertisement but I want to point out an article. It is disappointing that the Press only now starts to wake up. If any occupation should know about PR facades, than it should be the Press, but not even reporters catch on until catastrophic events happen and they start to take a closer look.
But regardless, I want to point to a brilliant Times UK article by Sathnam Sanghera and just quote a few things that are worth repeating. Some of my readers may not be on Twitter where I re-posted this article all over the place after I found it first on 03. Nov. 2018, so you can go straight to the link to read. Unfortunately you need to register with The Times to read, but it’s very simple and fast.
The only little “house keeping” I want to mention for your own inbox, that I already posted in the summer, read the small print carefully otherwise you find yourself with junk mail very quick. It really annoyed me and I ended up not registering at the time. I just registered on 3rd Nov. when I discovered Mr. Sanghera’s well worth article to register.
When you sign up, be careful how to click:
“We’ll send you information on products and services from The Times and The Sunday Times that you may be interested in. If you would prefer not to receive these then click here. ”
The little word “not” is here.
“We would like to send you exclusive promotions, competitions, and content from selected partners. If you would like to receive these then please click here.”
The little word “not” is NOT here.
In short, if you do NOT want to receive any junk mail whatsoever, CLICK the first box and leave the second box UNclicked. Pretty naughty what The Times is doing here, as many people are in a hurry and assume after they clicked the first box, the second applies to the same 😉 But other than that registering is quite simple and fast.
Some things from this article I want to highlight:
“Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it”
— Sathnam Sanghera
First of all, Pret was always difficult. I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint purchased and set a high target to open all over the place, especially on seemingly every corner in London. But former colleagues, including one former manager who worked with the competition next door to the Pret I worked in, told me that it was always a “club” at the top where you only were part of if you played the game well, and the hard workers at the bottom did all the work. But since 2008 it became hellish as I collected many staff complaints from various Employment Review sites, Twitter, YouTube etc. as well as my own traumatic experience in Pret.
I also cleaned up the comprehensive list and explained the positions in the recent post I wrote “Pret Poets Society“, as writing helps me cope.
Briefly, three of the many reviews that I can underline all the way. The first comes from a New York City former Pret employee just “freshly” reviewed on 30. Oct. 2018 and hits this home again what I have experienced and survived:
One former Manager’s review from 2012, 4 years after the Bridgepoint purchase:
And this person that keeps appearing on YouTube regarding Pret like I keep posting on Twitter:
Scrolling down on the YouTube comments
Some Quotes from the article:
“I’d like to say I’ve not been influenced by what other people have been saying, but I have: the fallout from the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after a severe allergic reaction to one of the company’s baguettes, and the company’s woeful response, has brought home just how much Pret has changed under private equity owners, the most recent of which is JAB Holdings, which also owns Krispy Kreme. More specifically, all the things I once admired Pret for are no longer true.”
My response to this is, that the truth only now comes out but it has been like this for years. And devastatingly it takes deaths for the public to drop their jaw in disbelief. I was writing since May 2018 about Pret and how poorly their top leadership is dealing with serious issues. I have at times written all over the place, addressed all kinds of people especially when I was extremely distressed and virtually crying out for the public to open their eyes as people are getting hurt, especially staff.
But the majority of the time I was met with silence, sometimes with anger because people just don’t want to know that their beloved Pret is not what they thought it is. The only people who believed me immediately and were/are supportive are of course the Unions and activists in general, people who deal with dishonest companies and organizations on a daily basis and are not surprised anymore.
One person’s support helped me greatly, just in the fact that she believed me and gave me a dose of reality that most people don’t give a toss. Thank you to Rebecca again:
But it is sad that even the Press is not interested to look deeper until the ultimate catastrophic event happens: death prematurely and unnecessarily. And if the press gets interested, they are intimidated, fearing by legal ramifications. I don’t blame them. But at the end of the day no one who read my publications will be able to say they didn’t know how it is in Pret. I’m satisfied that even 1 person reads and believes me.
“Depressingly, this weekend The Sunday Times reported that Pret had been hit with a bill of almost $1 million (£780,000) to settle claims that it underpaid staff in its New York sandwich bars.”
Again, I posted this all over the place already back in August (in red at the start of this post) where I was even followed on Twitter by several news reporters including one from the Guardian. I have since kicked everyone off my following, that I did at times in a drunken stupor and distress. For the reader to understand I became like this since the traumatic death of my brother added with what I went through in Pret. But I am slowly recovering and working hard, including with Therapy not to act on impulse. But I keep writing about how staff in the UK are not paid accordingly, which I also have experienced countless times having to chase my correct pay.
“…in recent years the company has been attacked as a prominent proponent of “affective labour”, aimed at giving customers a positive feeling, with the British journalist Paul Myerscough reporting in The London Review of Books that staff are required to master…”
This article can be found here and speaks about Andrej who was fired from Pret after he started a Union. I gave Andrej his own spot on my website: Andrej Stopa Ex-Pret.
And I will add again and again that this affective emotional labour hurts people to the point of suicide. And for those who know my story and keep reading this repeat, I’m sorry, but new readers find my website every day and I have to repeat over and over that I was bullied during bereavement with all the manipulative traumas that happened to me under Pret’s toxic HR department. My website/blog is filled with the majority of the story and will eventually turn into a chronological book.
But because I became suicidal, I had to just write as much as possible in case I wouldn’t survive. And if this is all that I had left to do, and no matter what Pret does to me again, my story is out and I hope people open their eyes. Last year an assistant manager died by suicide and I keep confronting Pret about it. Of course they wouldn’t respond. But again, the truth will one day always come out!
“The recent claim made by chief executive Clive Schlee that “Pret looks like a huge company but in fact it’s 500 little kitchens”, and marketing material that implies that Pret is still a local store selling healthy products to customers it knows intimately, just doesn’t wash anymore. It’s obvious what the owners are trying to do. As one veteran private equity investor put it recently: “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”.”
Yes, I started to be bothered with the amount of Prets popping up all over the place since 2008, and while working in Pret then I felt “invaded” even in my private time when mingling around London that in my personal time I couldn’t escape the view of a Pret.
“There has been a barrage of negative stories in recent years: tabloid claims that Pret’s “freshly baked bread” is in fact imported part-baked and frozen from France; tales of a vegetarian customer finding sausages in their breakfast pot…”
It’s not just “tales” it’s fact, and in my 10 years the amount of complaints I had to deal with in shops and had to refund and fix mistake is a book on its own. Several serious issues from just recently: Meat soup for vegetarian, dairy instead of soya in coffee, plastic socket cover in a wrap, metal piece in a wrap, piece of ham in veggie sandwich, repeatedly wrong soups / wrong labels…
“It’s ironic that when the founders sold a third of the business to McDonald’s for £50 million in 2001 it was deemed a disaster but nowadays McDonald’s feels like it is trying harder to change than Pret.”
I am a permanent and life-long “boycotter” or avoider of McDonald’s and the like, but this is a great statement! It always bothered me when I first learned that Pret did this marriage of convenience to McD to get their foot into the U.S. I learned this in my first year in Pret and couldn’t believe how a food company that prides itself in freshness and paying staff better, then teaming up with McDonald’s. That already is a dead give away what’s behind the motive anyway.
Yes, a star may have been fallen while Pret painstakingly keeps up the smile and now push hard with patronizing former homeless people as “Rising Stars” … and what is behind this I wrote in this article… But PR[et} keeps shouting loud and diverting away from its troubles and readjusts its make up for the public.
I hope more quality journalists like Sathnam Sanghera will take a closer look and interest into the facade of Pret and also staff treatment. Pret deserves a host of undercover reporters on different locations/countries invading them and reporting from the inside, like James Bloodworth did with Amazon. But I guess, even deaths in Pret are falling on the wayside again now and the public woohoos about free coffees and cookies. Just business as usual …
My thoughts are often with the Ednan-Laperouse and Marsh families. I cannot stop thinking about their trauma. The first couple of years are the worst, and now especially during Christmas, the first Christmas that 5 daughters and a widow will be without their mum and wife…
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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