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Britain's Pret raises staff pay for third time in a year

LONDON (Reuters) - British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger will raise staff pay for a third time in a year, an increase that will likely pique the interest of the Bank of England as it weighs up inflationary pressure in the economy.

Pret, owned by investment firm JAB and founder Sinclair Beecham, said on Thursday its 7,870 UK shop staff will receive an additional 3% pay increase from April 1, on top of the 5% rise that came into effect in December 2022.

It said "team members" will see pay increase from between 10.30 pounds and 11.55 pounds an hour ($12.36-$13.86) to between 10.60 pounds and 11.90 pounds depending on location.

Barista pay will increase from between 10.85 pounds and 12.50 pounds an hour to between 11.20 pounds and 12.85 pounds, depending on location and experience.

All workers can also receive what Pret calls a "mystery shopper bonus" of 1.25 pounds an hour.

Pret said average base pay for shop staff will have increased by 19% in the year to April. UK inflation was 10.1% in January.

The BoE is watching pay settlements closely as it weighs further rises in interest rates.

Pret said it wanted to support its workforce amid the high cost of living. But the latest rise also likely reflects Britain's still tight labour market.

Data last month showed that despite being on the brink of recession, the country's jobless rate held close to five-decade lows and employment grew.

Food retailers Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer have all recently announced staff pay rises.

The government-mandated National Living Wage will rise to 10.42 pounds an hour from April, an increase of 9.7%.

Pret also provides workers with free food and has introduced a discounts portal giving access to products from major supermarkets and other businesses at a lower cost.

The group, which trades from 429 shops in the UK and a further 121 overseas, said in 2021 it wanted to double the size of its business within five years.

($1 = 0.8333 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)