Pret a déporter: Brexit’s impact on the British chain
How many times have you walked into a Pret a Manger and have been served by someone who is not British? Considering that only 1 out of 50 job applicants are from the UK it is safe to say the answer is a lot.
Some say this is due to the fact that its offer does not attract British workers.
Andrea Wareham, the director of Pret’s Human resources, told a parliamentary committee that she would not be able to fill the company’s position only with UK workers. Even if she stated that they pay above the national living wage and give great benefits, she admitted that some still not find this appealing.
Francesca*, an Italian Manager at Pret a Manger, differentiates its workers in London and those outside the capital. She highlights how the possibility to grow is a major factor in the company. She is confident in the fact that Brexit will affect Pret, and she uses the “Experience week” and everything the chain is doing to attract British workers as a proof of that. She also noted how the international atmosphere of Pret might scare workers from the UK.
Those who voted out of the EU because they didn’t want “their” jobs stolen, did not consider some of the sectors that are almost completely fueled by international workers.
Given that this chain was created in London and still holds 67% of its trade in the city, the number of immigrants is expected and normal for the specific economy of the capital. In fact, 65% of its non-UK workers are European Nationals, as you can probably tell by the high quantity of Spanish or Italian flags next to their name tags.
From the perspective of the company, they have already expanded their trade in Europe. For now, it is only France with 14 outlets in Paris and one in Nice, but with this possible decline the chances of a bigger expansion are very high.
Mark*, who is a British student working at Second Cup, has noted how the choice of working in a coffee shop usually depends on the social situation: someone from the working class would work there, but those born in a wealthier family would leave those kind of jobs to others.
Sarah*, working at Caffè Nero, argued that British people are lazy, so this job is not suitable for them due to their low levels of patience. She states that if you are not from here they don’t really respect you and she and her colleague are looking forward to see and “laugh” once Brexit will have its effects.
Svetlana* from Greggs was sure about the catastrophic effects of Brexit, given that she thinks that 90% of the employees in companies such as Costa or Starbucks are foreign.
Some may say that the fall of big chains will be positive for independent businesses, but this would be less relevant and achievable in London, which would be a ghost town without European workers.
*names were changed for privacy purposes