With JAB / Reimann’s takeover of Pret, they are exploding from here on, purchasing sandwich chain rival EAT. with the plans to bow to public demand, turning the 90+ EAT. stores into Veggie Prets. The work environment of Pret will spill over to EAT.
EAT. as an imitation and the most serious competition to Pret is known by Pret staff as being more relaxed and less strict. EAT. has always been a sore in Pret’s sight, so one can imagine the triumph they must feel (all on workers’ backs!). Many Pret staff that I also worked with, especially leaders, left Pret and went to EAT. after they couldn’t handle the harshness of Pret anymore. They said that they rather get paid less and have less stress.
I’m sure current EAT. staff will be taken on more or less. Andrew Walker, CEO of EAT. used to be Pret’s UK Managing Director and has his story of why and how he left Pret …
After the initial rumor mid May 2019 before the confirmation days later, the slogans are already out there quickly, as Pret A Manger means ready to eat, Twitter is full with “Ready to Eat EAT.” and “Pret swallowing EAT.” posts.
My concern remains regarding employees as I have survived Pret on another matter (my podcast interview at the bottom of this post). Perfect timing that my experience with Pret was also published in the May/June 2019 edition of The Scottish Left Reviewat the same time the rumors of the EAT. purchase circulated on Twitter.
How the leadership structure will be changed with Andrew Walker CEO of EAT and Clive Schlee, Pret’s CEO and their past “issues”, time will tell. But both companies in mid to end of May 2019 aren’t the highest scores from staff reviews on Glassdoor as well as Indeed and other sites. A little over half of EAT. staff and less than half of Pret staff recommend working for their companies on Glassdoor.
Regarding staff reviews of Pret, the below Slideshow at the bottom should make it clear why less than half recommend working at Pret.
I copy the full article here with link to the publication. I submitted the text which was slightly edited for grammar as English is my second language. But the text has been written by myself with information given to the magazine on the Pret Union and the I-Hate-Pret-A-Manger “preth8ers” Facebook group.
On the frontline: crushed by corporate capitalist culture
‘Late Night Girl’ tells of the bullying behaviour at work she suffered and how she is fighting back.
My story with Pret-A-Manger is very complex and long. Only in hindsight, do I think I understand the extent of what I’ve been through and how systemic the problem of workplace bullying in profit driven companies can be.
I have always worked in the food industry in three different countries. I have worked in a hotel, wine bar, canteen and various restaurants and cafe chains but I have never experienced the stress and discrimination I went through in Pret. Only now, when I have contact with unions (like the BFAWU) and activists, do I realise that this is a growing problem as a result of capitalist globalisation and the accompanying intensification of competition.
Before I worked in Pret, I was an assistant manager (AM) in Caffe Nero. Nero was a lot of stress, but nothing like Pret, and the atmosphere with colleagues and managers was relaxed. I left Nero as Pret paid better. Even as a new team member, I got paid more than as an AM in Nero. I would not have left Nero if the wage was not so poor. Little did I realise that the reason Pret pays a little more than its competitors is because the work is so intense, incredibly stressful and with a bullying environment under poorly trained management.
But I’m used to hard work and don’t shy away from it. I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint, the private equity investor, purchased Pret and put forward the target to open on every street corner (in London specifically). That meant a lot of managers were needed, but there was not the effort to really train them, and most have neither people nor leadership skills.
But again, I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt, thinking in time when I moved on or rose upwards in position that it would become easier. I never expected this bullying environment – which at first I denied was happening as it happened in every shop I worked but it continued and even intensified when I was bereaved.
I was a team leader of the shop floor – there is a separate leadership in the kitchen – from around 2011 onwards. Team leaders do the real work, whereas managers tend to sit in the office, come in late, leave early, look important, go to meetings etc. Team leaders are blamed a lot while not being supported.
My story really starts to become horrendous when my brother died. This in itself was the most traumatic event in my life and I never expected to be treated so badly with the seeming intention to have me leave my employment as bereaved employees seem quickly to become something of an inconvenience in Pret, and often in many other companies.
My brother died in December 2014 in his flat and was not found for approximately six days when neighbours smelt the strong odour of his corpse. My brother was self-employed – after having gone back to studies, he started his own business as an environmental advisor on green energy to companies. He travelled throughout Germany where I’m from, so it was not unusual that neighbours didn’t see him much.
We didn’t know for five weeks that my brother died, and to make it even worse, the police did not investigate properly, not finding us and after a few weeks just cremated him. I have written extensively about this on my blog (https://expret.org/). Here, I summarise what I went through in Pret.
I travelled back and forth between London and Germany for the funeral, running errands, investigating what happened, brought my mum with me to London as I had to continue to work. I spent all my savings with all the costs and was forced to return to work.
I had basic support from Pret as staff receive a few days ‘compassionate leave’. But that was all. I was never sat down and told what support I may need, and was also put on late shifts which kept me from vital support from friends as I worked when they were off and they worked when I was off. Initially, I didn’t mind and didn’t even notice, as I couldn’t sleep until the morning anyway as I was tormented with shock and grief. I kept going to work to keep me occupied and distracted as best as possible.
I approached human resources (HR) informally to make a suggestion on how to support bereaved employees. But unbeknown to me at the time, I believe this inadvertently put a ‘target on my back’ and my superiors, I think with the guidance of HR, started pursuing me with little issues where I made mistakes (but my mistakes were even less than those of my colleagues).
One of several Mystery Shopper (MS) requirements is that staff have to smile, be friendly and show happiness all the time. Only recently have I learnt that this is called ‘emotional labour’ that is forced upon low-wage workers and I have since written about it. Also, in Pret, staff have one minute to serve customers, one minute to serve the hot drink from the time of payment, are tested to see if they give eye-contact, make some polite remarks etc. The MS even times the service to the second. I give a few examples with excerpts of MS comments on my website.
If teams fail in any or several points, the whole team loses its bonus. The bonus system is the biggest chunk towards managers’ remuneration. So, managers are extra strict when staff fail. I was traumatically bereaved: I even begged sometimes to be sent into the kitchen, away from the shop floor as I was tearing up at times and didn’t want to be seen by customers. I couldn’t afford to go home as I had had to spend all my savings. But I was denied this with the reason that I’m not used to the kitchen and would be slow. Everything in Pret has to be done fast. ‘Time is money’, customer circulation in and out of shops has to flow fast, meaning the money flows fast.
After I approached HR informally, I also requested a transfer to a shop where I would have rotating shift patterns, as my then general manager refused to give me rotating shifts as the evenings weren’t as busy and the MS visited very rarely in the evenings. I was warned when I didn’t smile by an area manager, and was summoned into the office on my day off because I made some minor mistakes. I was sent to another area and shop that had lots of problems, and in hindsight, I believe, I was sent there to set me up for failure.
I quickly became paranoid and felt I was targeted. And, I think I was right because months later I applied for my employee file which included emails between HR and managers who were brainstorming all the time what to do with me. I was constantly put under pressure in the hope I would resign. But I didn’t. I even declined four settlement offers if I’d resign and never speak about my ordeal or go to court. Three offers were made internally and the fourth was via the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) when I withdrew my Tribunal claim as my dad just died in the middle of preparing for the case. I could not afford a lawyer and was unable to fight this on my own.
I have collected other staff reviews from employment review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc and I have learnt the hard way that, without a union, there is no hope of raising issues of systemic workplace bullying. Many people were shocked and disbelieving when I mentioned how Pret really is behind its well-polished PR facade. Only the unions, activists and some from the press have believed me.
The targeting I went through was everything apart from sexual and physical violence – the typical bullying, both open and subtle. I was shouted at and, when this didn’t work, I was excluded from leaders’ meetings, was not given important information I needed to do my job, and was sent to difficult shops to receive a disciplinary for failing even in little things. Pret, it seems to me, works mainly with fear management.
The more perverse thing Pret did was with emails after I became ill. I believe I was targeted in group emails from my boss, in the emails I read between HR and managers etc. I spiralled into ‘ill emailing’. I received a disciplinary for the emailing but Pret used a Development Manager who told me she had also lost her brother in similar circumstances to my brother. She went into personal text messages and emailing with me because of our common grief. But this confused me further and, only in hindsight, does it now seem that I was being set up to get fired. I believe I was ‘gaslighted’ and then fired while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. CEO Clive Schlee labelled me his ‘late night girl’ due to my late night emails to everyone which then lead to my firing. I adopted that label to be a sore in his and Pret’s eyes. I confront Pret openly on Twitter and Facebook about this.
Because I have never experienced anything like this in any workplace, I was so traumatized with my brother’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, I became so out-of-sync giving Pret the benefit of the doubt again and again and putting blame on myself and what psychologists call ‘Sibling Survivor Guilt’. I even apologised for a nervous breakdown after a line manager rebuked me repeatedly in front of my team. For an overview of my trauma with Pret, I have created a ‘Mind Map’ linking each title to a blog entry as my blog has grown: https://www.mindmeister.com/1194255218/my-pret-a-manger-ordeal
‘Late Night Girl’ also tweets at https://twitter.com/LateNightGirlMe and she was recently interviewed on a podcast based in California where she tells her story in more detail (see front page of her website: expret.org).
• The editor adds:
There is a facebook group, started in 2011, called ‘I Hate Pret A Manger’. And, a now former employee, Andrej Stopa, helped start the Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU). He was reportedly fired in 2012 under the pretence of him allegedly having made homophobic remarks. See also the case of Rodrigo (in boxed graphic), another fired union activist. Unfortunately, both groups are not very active now. Unions like the BFAWU and UNITE are continuing to try to unionise Pret. For more on the employment practices of Pret, see The Guardian and The Independent.
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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.
NOTE:If the slide show does not run automatically, please delete amp/ from above URL and reload in order to view.
May not work on mobile devices without Wifi.
Slideshow can be paused
The above slideshow is just a selection, an extensive accounts of Pret’s systemic bullying behind the facade, also witnessed by customers: Caught in the Act at Pret.
For the first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.
Underneath the interview section are reviews/complaints from current and former Pret Staff.
You can still listen to the interview while scrolling below to the many staff complaints. Links to the reviews open in a new window or tab depending on what’s selected.
Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.
The main subject being workplace bullying, we also spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general and what to look out for in an interview for a new job. 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.
July 2019 Glassdoor percentage:
44% of staff (all positions incl. Shops staff, HQ staff, Management etc.) recommend working for Pret; 50% recommend the CEO. Occasionally these numbers rise again when suspiciously 5+ positive reviews in a row appear listing each position. But the truth will always surface:
I write extensively about Clive Schlee’s “legacy” on “Late Night Girl Articles“. For new readers Clive Schlee labelled me his “late night girl” which I explain in my interview (audio player) and I used this label to be a sore in his sight!
On 14. July 2019 Clive Schlee was still on Glassdoor as the CEO. But since I post these percentages on my blog and on Twitter, since 15. July Pano Christou who’s to take over as CEO in September 2019 appears already as the CEO:
UPDATE: October 2019
A customer complained on Twitter about how when it is very busy the manager is not helping on the shop floor but sitting in the office. I mention this in my interview as well.
If you want to skip this long intro, scroll down until the redwriting, and below it click on any of the many staff complaints I linked from outside Employment Review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc. as well as what I survived in Pret.
When customers who are so impressed with Pret because they only see the outside, the facade through the PR[et] machine, they ask Pret about these complaints and then are too easily sweet-talked into believing that this is just an unfortunate exception. But the truth will always come to the surface, no matter how long it takes.
I have chosen to do this public because I suffered so much and almost lost my life. I do this publicly for my own protection.
I wasted close to 10 years of my life in Pret! It is my biggest regret.
One major reason, but not the only one why there are so many complaints: Bridgepoint Capital. With the new JAB takeover, it will get even worse unless Pret radically changes their approach to the work conditions, and a £1000 fix won’t do it in the long-run, it is just an incentive to lure new workers in and retain current staff.
On a side note, she is governed under this therapy body who have a commitment right on their front page that I have not seen on other therapy sites: “Our accredited Register status helps to ensure the safety and protection of the public.” I find this odd, as if they have therapists who are not working for the safety and protection of the public. This Development Manager who is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner certainly is not adhering to safety and protection.
I became suicidal and ill. I was tricked and trapped again and again by management and HR, and my ill emailing out of trauma, having started to drink, I was fired while my father was in intensive care just out of a coma. I declined 4 settlement offers not signing anything and survived to speak of the ordeal I went through. This is Pret “doing the right thing naturally” as their HR department, and Pret in general claims.
I want to “let” others speak as well, complaints from even recently on employment review websites, YouTube, Twitter and other sites in the long list below.
Complaints from current and former staff members and managers, you can “blindly” click on ANY link below at RANDOM and it will read the SAME in a nutshell, at different times/years, from different positions: Discrimination, horrible, biased and incapable management, overworked, not paid for overtime, favouritism shown to own country-men etc…. Pret has extremely good PR in place and is sweet-talking their way out of this or post their “good deeds” online to cover up what really goes on behind the scenes, when customers contact Pret regarding these Staff Complaints.
The first person ever to stand up publicly against Pret’s terrible work-conditions wasAndrej Stopa. I am the second, and in time more people will stand up.
In my own way to cope with this be it sarcastically or with humour to get away from the seriousness and pain, I take a complaint from below’s list and put them daily as “Quotes of the Day” on my blog and collect them HERE, to stress the point how toxic Pret’s work environment is, and how it is hurting people hidden behind the shiny PR(et) facade.
Since I compiled all the staff complaints there seem to be quite a lot more “positive” reviews appearing, especially regarding “good” management and work environment. If there are fake news, I am not alleging anything, but there may be fake reviews! And also the Pret website as well as the CEO’s has as the main pinned Tweets the “good” deeds Pret & the CEO are doing, again excellent PR. There are good managers and good shops of course, but the management style in Pret to pressure for more profit, is poisoned throughout the company. And in time the truth will always come out. Knowing how Pret and their corrupt HR dept. manipulate, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is tasked to write these reviews. In my 10 years in Pret I worked with over a dozen managers, and only 2 were decent, fair and caring, not to mention hard working. The majority I worked with are immature, discriminating, bullying, insecure, complacent and oftentimes incapable due to lack of training.
True reviews will always continue be written on the same lines of horrible and bullying management until this changes. Pret does annual staff questionnaires that are at times manipulated by management. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if some are leaving fake reviews.
One quote from a former barista in Pret NYC mentions that every shop they have worked in, it is the same story re: bad management, favouritism etc. And it really is, also in London, UK: “I worked in 4 different shops and the song and dance was the same in each one.”
Another review also from NY: “Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company …” And I can verify this even in London, and I have worked with more than a dozen managers! Only 2 of them were exceptional and good, but it is the sad exception even now in 2018 as my experience and the below reviews show.
On the subject of missing pay and overtime not being paid as I have experienced as well in 10 years countless times that I had to chase missing pay from managers. This was draining and a job in itself.
“horrible management … management is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.”
“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…
Barista – “Not good – I always stay longer without pay. Change managers, treat your workers with respect! Pay more!”
Team Member – “Stressful and unsocial – stressful, poor management, rude and unempathetic”
Team Member – “Very bad experience – Advice to Management: You don’t listen to us! Nothing more to say! Bad experience and company!!”
Team Leader – “depressing workplace – quick money but depressing work place stop shouting”
Team Member, London – “horrible company! – Pros: nothing at all, low pay for slave work Cons: horrible manager and leaders. lies and discrimination. horrible company! Advice to Management: get new managers”
Team Member, Gatwick, UK – “Awful, vile kitchen staff – Constant bullying and harassment by the Team Leaders and staff. Low pay Disregard for employee’s wage payments Unhelpful managers”
Hot Chef, London – “Toxic, Stressful, chronically understaffed … baking over 200 pastries. Most of staff members are required to work over 45 hours a week. Staff members are being denied holidays booked with several months of notice.”
Team Member, London – “Aweful!Terrible work experience. Stressful and demanding for minimum pay. Not worth.”
Barista, London – “Micromanaged slave workI expected slave work to be in the past but at Pret A Manger you are treated like dirt!!!”
Team Member, Manhattan NY – “Apply to this job if you want to work for a role and not get paid for that role … as a team member I was made to hot chef, be a team member trainer, and an A team member, and was only being paid minimum wage whereas those key roles get paid more money.”
Barista, UK – “waste of time – very busy coffee shop, no work/life balance, staff calling sick every day so every day was short in staff, no pay for doing extra hours,unexperience and unprofesional managment”
Team Leader, Massachusetts, USA “don’t bother – Its a mess management is horrible and the higher ups are worst. all they care about is saving themselves from trouble and will throw anyone under the bus for their benefit”
Don’t work at Pret, slavery in 2019 – “They promise pay rise and promotion just to keep you slaving for hours and you have to remind manager to pay you the right amount of hours you work”
Nightshift, St. Pancrass, London “Toxic environment – Unprofessional superiors that scream a lot and treat you like slaves; Managenent not present during the nightshifts; Training programme not delivered appropiately. Stop treating your staff like slaves and give them a proper training”
11. June 2019 “Nightmare – If you want to feel like a slave, work here. All management who will not accept you if you aren’t one of them…All phonies with fake smiles. They look down on the workers with spite. This company is everything that is wrong with the world.”
11. June 2019 “First world slavery!! – There aren’t any positives the negatives are too many…You don’t need to leave the first world to experience slavery. Pret is a extremely harsh and rude place.”
09. June 2019 NY Barista: “Poor Management and Favoritism – I had basically no work life balance for the almost two years I worked there just to have someone who was only there a few months get promoted to leader because she was friends with management.”
08. June 2019 Barista, Oxford: “Worst place in my life Cons: All! Everything is bad! Slave job! Bad managers who put always the blame on you… Learn to be more kind with the workers!”
05. June 2019 Team Leader: “DON’T APPLY – You meet great coworkers that get you through the day … You have disgusting managers that only worry about themselves and their pockets. Never threaten an employee. Be honest and upfront….”
05. June 2019 NY: “Nice people, tedious work – You are doing the job of three different positions because they are low on staff.
Cons: Everything else”
01. June 2019: “Just Ugh…
Pros: Free food, that’s really it. Not much more
Cons: Everything else. You get worked like a slave for pennies – treat it like a VERY temporary job to put cash in your pocket”
“Working in the kitchen is like slavery, they force you to make sandwiches in very little time under pressure, the supervisor/leader is always “screwing” up. When you finished your job you have to stay longer for free. It’s physically and emotionally draining/exhausting. You sweat for 8.65€ (£? as this reviewer is in Edingburgh and Pret’s wage is £8.65). Stop crushing people.
Pros: Free food and coffee
Cons: Slave Labour”
28. May 2019 “massive pressure on kitchen leaders, early hours, stressful environment”
28. May 2019 “Favoritism everywhere, all the hardworking people continuously got in trouble for the lack of job the favorites did.”
27. May 2019 “Robots welcome, humans go work somewhere else!!”
27. May 2019 General Manager (GM): “Pret is great place to work if you want to make some money – on management level. However pressure is so high you can’t rest when you’re off or even on holiday”
27. May 2019 “Work politics, blame games, pressure to deliver highly set targets”
23. May 2019 “Not good – Bad manager and team leader is lazy in the office long hours little wage Not a good company to work for”
23. May 2019 “I did not like working in Pret. My team leader is aggressive, I could not finish my bench in time.
Pros: going home at end of shift
Cons: horrible place”
23. May 2019 Hot Chef: “Thank you, NEXT! Training for me and others mostly happens at home when we are not getting paid. There is no appreciation for those who actually are acting as team members because one tiny mistake and you’re on the chopping block… being made to feel like I don’t matter, daily new rules and expectations”
22. May 2019 “Most Managers are super bad – Get more involved within the shop instead of sitting in the office. Learn to make better rotas.”
22. May 2019 “Do not work here – Management are rude and unreliable. Listen to ALL EMPLOYEES!”
21. May 2019 “-terrible managment -early start at 5:00am -long hours –rotas never ready can’t plan week -GM is stressing us all time -low pay -fake smiling even when feeling down -mistery shopper unfair -too much stress -no team work -manager stress and not available”
20. May 2019 “A lot of the raises that were given have been taken away. Not enough front of house workers”
13. May 2019 “the mystery shopper pressure is too much – every little detail is a problem your hard work is lost by the smallest mistake.”
13. May 2019 “very neurotic environment – everyone is so afraid of little mistakes – management manipulate in fear and are always stressing us. very stressful not worth the pay.
Advise to management: get some psychological help – your leaders are neurotic – what do you do to them?
12. May 2019 “Don’t work at Pret, not recommended! – Huge stress and constant lack of staff. Very bad management. Terrible workplace. No point in giving advise, they don’t care.”
12. May 2019 “Pret A Manger is like the military and a cult!!If you work at Pret you go between brainwash and abuse. You get told nice things and given a few perks but for the peanuts you have to work like an animal”
09. May 2019 NY: “robotic work that eats away at your soul one day at a time. The turnover rate was ridiculously high, and for good reason.”
07. May 2019 “Scrap the bonus and pay us the £1. We work reallly hard.”
04. May 2019 “Stress, discrimination, mental health problems – Do not work there, HR cannot be trusted. Worst place ever. Pret has gotten much worse over the years, cut benefits, even less staff as before. Terrible place.”
02. May 2019 Barista: “Pret soldiers – You’re not a human in their eyes, more like a slave. The management rubbish, they doesn’t care for you. no opportunity, no life. Pros: Non Cons: everything”
01. May 2019 “Most staff english is not there first language, so this is often confussing – To speak english and not shout”
30. Apr. 2019 “Dishonest and incapible managers, long hours, stress, noise, low pay, no room to grow and learn”
27. Apr. 2019 “Constantly understaffed – No one listens to staff members,your advertising ,that you care for people,but it’s often complete opposite-discrimination,abuse no equal rights,constant favorism,most of times managers are in their positions ,because of licking their way up ,not because of hard work or honesty.”
“Never again – Prêt a Manger is an appealing company from the outside, but once you get in you realise how rotten the sistem is.”
“Painful job – pret a manger is painful job. feel like a slave. no time for breath. depress. bad paid. anxiety bad boss. work so fast. loud and shouts. tired. lot of pain”
“Temporary job to get on your feet – Working for 8 months was easy at first then became very stressful and I couldn’t wait to leave that job. Managers lack management and pushes it off for employees to handle. They sit in the office all day. Play favoritism”
“Don’t even bother – The baristas for some reason act like management and hurl abuse at you. Horrible People”
“Worst company, dishonest, discrimination, lying to young people”
“Would give 0 stars if I could – Most of the managers are also passive aggressive and just generally neurotic and stressed and have a go at you for every small detail.”
“Didn’t stay long – I spend a few days but it’s not for me. Manager didnt like me. Very hard job. Dont believe the hype.”
“Horrendous Place to Be – Hiring process is robust and Engaging. Sadly its terrible beyond this. Demotivating Team Leads.Grossly biased unless you are from their country/background. Floor was supposed to be cleaned with a Blue Role,By Hand.”
“Sugar-coated Slavery – The worst company I’ve ever worked for. Dishonest. Exploitative. Discriminatory. The HR depertament is a joke and the general managers or operation managers are either highly psychopathic or incompetent.“
USA “Treated like trash – Employees were treated like trash -Advice to Management: Treat employees better”
“Nightmare!! – too loud, too fast, too stressful, manager is shouting, not many team members, worked more then 50 hours all the time… The emotional labour of having to always smile and be super friendly is exhausting and also ridiculous. We are retail workers not customer’s friends.”
“Managers expect you to work like a robot and never get tired or worn out. Customers would get away with shouting at us and being abusive for no reason and the managers would just apologise and offer them some free food to avoid getting a complaint.”
“Floor Leader – extreme pressure for minimal pay -company constantly changing rules and adding standards”
“Team Leader – Rasism, discrimination ,team leader favorism ,screaming at you on daily basis high expectations people working for 2-3 people”
“Modern Slavery – Pros: it does not have anything good -Cons: modern slavery and bad manager”
Team Leader: “Never again – very poor screening system when choosing management, lots of hr issue unsolved … reconsider the Happy Team, Happy Customer scenario and solve the hr issues from headoffice”
“Not for british – I felt like an outsider in my own country. Train your managers! They look unhappy and stressed. I kept a low key to not become a target and just left.”
“Paris: Charge de travail horrible. – Entreprise a fuir absolument, des rushs épouvantables parfois 7 jours de travails consécutifs sans repos.”
“Never left a job so fast – I worked only a few week in Pret but fell used and stressed out. Expectations is high but no help from manager. Don’t recommend work there. Not helpful manager, stessful, not enough help, small team but lot of work”
“If I could give zero stars I would – Pret does not deserve even 1 star. I regret having worked there. Pret looks good from the front but once you work thete it’s a lot of stress and dushonest managers”
Barista: “You can do better – I was stressed out nearly everyday. The manager was very unprofessional and disrespectful. All she cares about was the money and working hard. But the pay didn’t match up with the amount of work. You’re required to do so much and know so much yet no one is taught the correct way. It just began to get too crazy for me. Drama, poor management skills and attitudes everyday. Toxic work environment”
“to much stress for little pay – bad managers in most shop I worked, dirty work kitchen don’t wash hands, no real training, blamed for everything, no support, bad paid”
“No – The place was always dirty. People wouldn’t take the job seriously. Everyday people would call out. I wouldn’t recommend working at this company. Avoid.”
Italian: Exploitation, racism: “Sfruttamento – azienda poco seria e stipendi molto bassi, poca vita sociale e turni troppo lunghi, bullismo e razzismo erano all’ordine del giorno”
Barista: “Horrible management – management is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.” (Note from me, this one is close to my heart as I was bullied during bereavement under HR and CEO’s knowledge and cover-up).
“Intense and stressful environment – The coworkers are very demanding and rude. The managers don’t fix issues with coworkers properly which causes a hostile work environment.”
Barista AND Hot Chef: “Horrible – Pret A Manger is honestly a very unprofessional work environment. I’ve met great people at the job but the job itself is very stressful and not worth the pay. Cons: Horrible management, pay, hours”
“I hate work in Pret A Manger – Treat all fair and don’t push so much. Boring job, learn nothing but have to work so fast. I hate working there!!!!”
“Wouldn’t recommend – There are lot of slogans and promises of awards but when you do well there is no award. Manager is stressed and hectic no time to learn and make mistakes. ”
“Discrimination and favouritism – If you can play games Pret is perfect. Hard work doesn’t count but only when you push teams hard for bonus and not train them. ”
General Manager review, London:
“Not the best place to work – Not much support to the management from the Operations Team. Had to work there at least 12 hours, as there was no other manager in the store, due to some HR issue, and hadn’t received the bonus, due to lack of staff which influenced my Family tree…
was left with quite a lot of food waste, instead of having an ability to increase sales.
As well, there was no charity collection, as they always use in their marketing… As much as they “Like to promote internally” you are still just a pawn for them.”
“Other locations were filthy. Seriously… I worked at a relatively new location with staff that enjoyed themselves… but I was sent to a couple other locations at times if they needed help and ooooh was it a different story. There were some seriously gross violations, health and cleanliness wise, as well as duty and customer service wise. Listen to employees if we say there is something wrong going on… there definitely is.”
Head Office: “Great brand poor management – Poor management resulting in poor decisions. Office culture is working really really long hours. No work life balance whatsoever and constant office politics.”
Manager: “Standards have dropped in recent years, growing animosity between team members and even their managers, training new employees is very sporadic and not everyone is trained properly, management standards have also lowered, if you’re a manager, good luck trying to have a life. You guys really need to start training people by following a system, not however and whenever you feel like it. ”
“Ehh not worth it at all – Unprofessional staff, youre not even trained properly they just throw you in there and if youre lucky someone who isnt BRAND NEW (btw literally had someone that got hired 4 days before me showing me the ropes) will notice you dont know what youre doing and assist you…not enough breaks…I do not recommend!”
My initial comments to James Hoffmann’s video and his response, which are still not released but only visible when I am logged in to my YT account. I wrote an Open Letter to James Hoffmann because my comments weren’t visible, otherwise I wouldn’t have written one. He still hasn’t responded and just briefly recognized it via Twitter, as I have a hunch that he might have contacted or has been contacted by Pret who may have sweet-talked their way out of this again, as “PR”et is very efficient for the outside facade:
Unfairly dismissed Worker was unfairly dismissed, became homeless, lost his relationship, slept in his car for a few weeks.
A review regarding Pret’s Head Office from a former IT ANALYST!
Quote: “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 good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”
“One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.”
Quote: “Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company…”
This, dear New York Employee, is because like you already mentioned that there is no training in leadership and employee relations. I have had over a dozen managers, and even more managers I’ve worked with when I helped out in other branches for a few days. In my 10 years in Pret there were only 2 of them that had people and leadership skills, one of which is this wonderful person, who’s also proven that a manager can be nice, hard working and still be really successful, as she was often at the top (#1, 2 etc.) out of all the shops.
Also, Pret pays a little more than the competition and gives incentives, more holiday, bits and pieces here and there, because if they won’t give more they would have no one wanting to work in Pret as Pret is just way too stressful and hard work. To me, the hard work was not so much the issue, the issue was the UNNECESSARY bullshit = bullying and discrimination. And for Pret to dare bully me while I was going through extreme trauma with the loss of my brother and all the tricks and traps I could not clearly see until later, you bet I will speak about this openly no matter what they come up with next.
From YouTube 2008 this was before Pret became increasingly and intensely bullying But it has always been difficult, but since the 2008 Bridgepoint takeover, it became more systemic bullying as Pret was tasked and pressured to open more and more shops fast on almost every corner in London at least. I won’t point out who, but in the video is one person I later worked with, who became a GM later (I worked with them when they were AM) and is one of the rare people/GMs being good to their TMs.
“The idea of proper training is also rediculous – Most people are taken in under promises (including being a front of house or kitchen person but then dumped where they are needed and not where they were promised) but find that often by day 2 or 3 are thrown on a bench on their own in the kitchen and nagged at due to not being fast enough and expected to reach TM* productivity levels within the first few weeks with hardly any proper training.”
Throughout all my time in Pret I have mentioned the lack of training again and again and again and did my utmost best to train my teams even though many of my managers tried to stop me because I was investing time in my teams, but managers wanted me and teams to just be busy on the tills and in the kitchen… Training hardly exists in Pret. Development Managers are just doing their 9-5, Mon – Fri job, not being bothered if what they train is even implemented in the shops! There is a huge chasm between HQ and shops, no matter how much “PR”et is trying to convince otherwise!
“I’ve learned a Lot!…” “Cons: In Spite of the wonderful Pros of this company, Your subjected to emotional blackmail and serious labor issues with Most shops being run by Unprofessional and Bias Managerial staff backed by a corrupted HR Dept. Advice to Management: The Core Values you instill in your Employees are Virtuous , And is the the secret to your success!…..On the Contrary, I strongly suggest a Labor Union! so employees that are treated unfair have a platform for their voice to be heard without resentment or the sinuous backlash from your Inadequate Managerial staff & Flout HR Dept.!!!! who support them.”
“If you want to work in a happy enviroment without being bullied then whatever you do DON’T work for Pret … Being made to feel incompetent. Worked into the ground without empathy. Managers treat staff like idiots. The image of the happy enviroment is a joke. It would be good for the BBC or Dispatches to go under cover and work in a shop for a week to show the world what really goes on behind the scenes.”
and replace them with more educating indiviuals and ones that dont discriminate … Nothing but aggravation and a discriminating HR” <– (This review is as recent as 12. June 2018! I have my own extensive experience with the Pret HR dept. as the Head of HR said that I “Exhausted the HR department”. Sorry about that @ Head of HR, but as a Tribunal Judge already ruled that your hearings are “fundamentally flawed” I can more than verify this after raising grievance after grievance that were NOT conducted fairly and impartially).
“Interesting comments. My husband now works for pret and is being treated so badly by his area manager. I am astounded that they can get away with it. It seemed like such a nice place to work but it’s like some kind of sect… ”
My response: they get away with it because it is systemic and they are trained to treat staff like this, for more and more profit.
— 4 months later: —
“Further to my previous comment [scrolling up above this review] about my husband having problems with his area manager. They stitched him up good and proper and fired him…this was done in such a way that they found a couple of things to hang him on which wouldn’t normally result in him being sacked. They clearly did all of this because he was going to put in a grievance against his area manager for bullying (he was talked out of this and thought it had all smoothed over) and then wham! The company disgusts me – how they could treat an employee with a wife and 2 small children like that I don’t know. The management of this company are pure evil.”
“Regarding the area manager, yeah they just sit on their fat bums all day, and email on their phones or look at stupid graphs. End of the day its about increasing sales, meeting targets and reducing labour. They will always cover there own backs first, to watch there bonuses, and not care about the workers.
Alot of managers i have met, are complete arrogant snobs, that know nothing about even running a store, yet alone trying to explain things to you, they sit on there high throne, and blah blah blah things.”
“The brainwash is real” “The coffee calling system is broken. During busy times it is nearly impossible to keep up with the orders without hating everyone around you. … managers/team leaders are not properly trained when it comes to simple communication. Especially towards female staff members. A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period. Advice to Management: Get some proper training regarding real people skills.” (Absolutely true!)
“Not kitchen, food factory”“Not everybody has to be a leader who works long enough for Pret and shouts loud enough. Management should assess the personality, the leadership skills and the interpersonal skills before making someone a leader.”
“Horrible 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. Advice to Management: 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.”
“Worst company to work for” … managers are always working with fear … Advice to Management: 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.” (And I thought I was tough with my critique!)
“The worst job I’ve had in London”“the good payment is not enough for getting worse my health (my back and my heart). l am with anxiety all the time, working in a tiny kitchen in a HORRIBLE atmosphere!!” (Yes, I was bullied during bereavement and tricked and trapped via HR, high five!)
“I have asked for several transfers to other shopsdue to management. Either a manager was extremely “lazy”, un-supportive, but gave the team a hard time when things didn’t go well, or another manager was like a tyrant, constantly threatening the team & individuals with & giving file notes for the smallest things. Ops Managers either aren’t aware of it, mostly being concerned with mystery shopper results for their own bonuses or not bothering about how the team is “motivated”.”
“You are of course right, hiring happy people is only a part of the solution. If an employee is unhappy, and its affecting their work, ask them what’s up (gently).”
My response: I lost my brother and in my bereavement was NOT asked “gently” what’s up, I was bullied, targeted, tricked and trapped by Pret’s HR dept. to get me out and ultimately fired while my father was in intensive care, just out of a coma. So, here I am again having survived to tell my story as “gently” as possible collecting all these reviews from other sites.
Pret A M*ffin “…team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear … listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt”
Pret A Robot “People are treated inhuman way in terms of sickness and work load. Employees are being treated more like robots than human beings”
Pret A Joke “You have a limited time to do your job everyday but this time limit is a joke. they give me the next rota just the day before the week starts.”
Pret A Nothing “didn’t learn nothing as i have things to give to that shop as i came with lots of experience and skills.”
Red A Manager “their [managers] personality only is good for business, but not for the people that work under.”
NOTE: I don’t agree with the racism here! But the trend of complaints about management and leadership should be clear.
“Hot Chef Advice to Management: Be human. It’s not your own business.”
My response: That’s what I said once to a line manager who told us leaders that if we don’t like it in “his” shop to f*** off, I replied that he is also only employed by Pret, he does not own “his” shop!
“Brain wash, Control, Never stop…” “Cons: Aggressive and mortify management, brainwashing, mobbing, after working hours NON PAID, if you don’t finish YOUR DUTIES you stay after the working hours non paid… Advice to Management: Respect people that work hard! Don’t exploit them!”
My response: easily said when they immediately threaten with Note of Concerns, disciplinary and job security!
“…also has a motto: FIFO or Fit In or Fu*k Off. I always got the impression that Pret was actually a free-thinking company…but perhaps they are becoming too large too and need to do the conforming thing.”
“Overworked, High expectations, No recognition” “Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”
“I regret working there (don’t go)” “Team Leader who was working with me during the weekends (I was a part timer) was very rude to me , calling me stupid etc. … And I also ”love” how the company itself tries so hard to create this friendly enviroment for the employers by putting these sweet posters around etc. etc. when in reality it is very miserable and stressfull place to work for ! … People working in your company are not robots with smiles on their faces 24/7 !!!”
“Good first job … as foreigner” “Often happen to work “unpaid” overtime to finish daily duties … Limited progression career if you’re not in the state of grace of the Head of your working Area … In many cases I’ve weighed up a big incompetence and lack of skills between Team Leader and Assistant Manager’s position.”
“Demanding. Can be fun” “High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance”
“horrible management, super biased” “super biased managers most of the girls in my store are from the same place even the assistant manager and FOH so they tend to group together against people they don’t like even if they don’t know them. … make sure the store isn’t just a bunch of biased friends that if you aren’t part of their group they’ll make your life hell”
“Horrible experience” “Lack of communication b/t managers and staff. – Immature workers – Slave-like environment – Biased behavior – Too strict on simple task. Advice to Management: Work on communication and stop treating co-workers like robots.”
“Team Member” “my location had a rude manager who cleaned up her act after I tried relocating. There is no HR, just a recruitment team who will give you phone numbers to where you wanna go. Overworked for sure; management expects perfection for their weekly shopper. You’ll be running from the basement to the first floor, between tons of customers, and up to the second … ”
“The one thing that did frustrate me and ultimately caused me to leave was the way it dealt with the enthusiasm troughs. In fairness to Pret, I left 8 years ago; so this may have improved since but in my experience the company was not good at dealing with people’s frustrations. There was a strong message for people who were frustrated with something and couldn’t get it resolved – leave! I saw a number of people become shunned and passed over if they had feedback which wasn’t entirely positive. Often people left disgruntled having started out as the desirable happy employees. I suppose in someways it was a useful self selection process – when I became frustrated with a few things and felt threatened that my feedback would fall on highly judgemental ears I knew it was time to leave – leaving the happy people behind me. ”
My response to this review: This person left in 2008 out of frustration, I started in Pret in 2008 and can only say in all fairness to Pret, that it gotten worse.
“Team Member” “Multiple Supervisor – Confusing Leadership … Lack of leadership … Add some structure & look for ways to encourage workers to work hard and have fun without risking their jobs”
“General Manager“ “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. Advice 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.”
“Terrible experience…”“Cons: Pretty much everything is a con: -lots of stress -under payed -long hours/ short brakes -terrible management -really unflexible schedule.”
“Spoiled, selfish upper management…” “upper management thinks they are better than everyone else. They spend (waste) lots of money on dinners for themselves and “leadership conferences” that are really just excuses to party in Orlando or Vegas. “Business” trips to Boston and Chicago are really expensed vacations for their families. The Brits have taken over NYC. Pret has brought over many managers and leaders form the UK and ‘beheaded’ many of the US employees who built the brand to make room for them. Advice to Management:get over yourselves.”
I will shorten the comments now as this is never ending… Links can just be clicked and read….
In an Imaginary but Honest Interview with Pret I made up the acronym of what Pret stands for: PRET is a four letter F-Word spelled F E A R which stands for: Fire Early At Request. Or one can say Fret.
@Pret, at any company, please treat your people right, as a team leader I have shown you that when you treat your team right, you will still be successful and the money comes in and the team feels truly respected. You don’t want people like me who raise the standard while still treating the team good. I was too loud for you, and yet, if you would have protected me in the darkest time instead of continuing to put me under suppressive management, I would be writing a completely different blog now.
Thank you for reading.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
If you are a current Pret Employee, especially in the shop and / or kitchen, I advise you to not waste your time trying to change work conditions, nor “fight” bullying, non-caring managers and dishonest HR internally, but join a Union ASAP!
Before I worked in Pret I never had any problems with a company or bosses. Of course I had the usual stresses any job brings, especially the food industry, and a boss here and there would get on our nerves from time to time, but nothing like the hell and trauma I survived in Pret! Nothing came even close! I never ever imagined to be bullied during already traumatic bereavement! Never! My story is like out of a twisted Hollywood Film and sometimes people don’t believe me. That’s fine, I have all the written evidence, have declined 4 settlement offers if I resign and never speak about my ordeal nor go to court. I do not sign my rights away, especially not the offensive peanuts Pret offered!
And all Pret does on Twitter and Facebook regarding my public confronting them, is to report me to Twitter to “shadow ban” me so that my followers are not notified about any new tweets and the public won’t see my tweets as Twitter on behalf of Pret (£$€) hides my tweets.
But because I never experienced anything even remotely bad in a company before, that’s why I made the mistake to give Pret the benefit of the doubt one too many times while clouded in grief and trauma, as this was a first. I was trying to figure out why this was happening to me. In my darkest time during bereavement, when I was so traumatized I couldn’t see left from right and just went on autopilot, I was even bullied on top of this! From my experience with this company, Pret A Manger, and especially their toxic HR department, I can only urge you to join a Union! Keep on writing reviews on Employment Review and other websites, but safe yourself unnecessary pain and time, and join a Union.
In fact any employee should be a member of a Union. Period.
For Pret workers and food workers in general, I can highly recommend the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union. The BFAWU was instrumental in the first ever McDonald’s workers’ strikes (McStrike) in the UK that already took place in the USA, but in the UK they are a vital force in organizing workers who suffer financially, physically and mentally.
My story is spread over this website, but to get to the most important blog entries for an overview, please visit this “Mind Map” I created to link to key blog entries. There you can choose the posts that most interest you to know about by clicking on the arrow linking back to this website / blog again.
Understand, that when you join a Union and Pret knows about it, that they will find anything against you to get rid of you. Andrej who founded the Pret A Manger Staff Union (PAMSU) was fired under the “pret-ense” of allegedly having made homophobic remarks 10 months prior to getting dismissed.
Andrej confronting Pret on the real reason of dismissal.
So, join a Union and speak out, but understand that once Pret knows that you joined any Union, your days in Pret are numbered. But you won’t be alone. I cannot recommend the BFAWU enough and wish I knew this Union when I was in the middle of my Pret ordeal.
President of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson’s much needed words for employees and employers alike:
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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