The sandwich and coffee chain told staff on Tuesday that 8,000 servers will get a pay increase from £9.40 to up to £10.15 per hour from April. 85% of staff will earn at least £10 an hour after the changes.
The mystery shopper bonus — a weekly perk paid to 80% of staff for good customer service — will rise by 25% to £1.25 per hour.
The move will cost Pret £9.2 million and marks the company’s biggest one-off investment in pay and benefits in its 36-year-history.
CEO Pano Christou said: “We’ve said all along that as our business recovered, we wanted to invest back into our people. Today, as we move into a new phase of our transformation strategy, I’m really pleased we’re in a position to do exactly that.
“After a difficult couple of years, it gives me so much joy to be able to give our hard-working Shop Teams this news. Crucially, when you combine our hourly pay, our 50% staff discount, and the Pret Mystery Shopper bonus, we’re proud to be one of the best employers in our industry.”
The pay and bonus bump comes after a turbulent pandemic for the chain. Pret was forced to lay off staff and shut branches after lockdowns and work from home orders decimated trade at its inner city branches. Revenues dropped by 58% in 2020 and the business relied on £185 million from shareholders to keep it afloat.
The company launched new products to help it survive the slowdown, such as a coffee subscription service and online delivery. Pret said its subscription service was now being used over a million times a week.
Business has stabilised over the last 12 months and the company received a £100 million cash injection from JAB and Pret founder Sinclair Beecham in September 2021 to drive expansion. Pret wants to open 200 new UK shops in the next two years, focusing on suburban areas, transport hubs and motorways. It will open franchised stores as part of the expansion.
Christou said: “We’ve got big ambitions for Pret’s future, and none of it would be possible without the hard work and commitment of our people. We hope that this announcement goes some way to thanking them for everything they’ve done over the course of pandemic – no one deserves it more.”
Pret employs 8,500 people across the UK and has around 550 shops in Britain, the US, France, Dubai and Hong Kong.
The pay rise comes amid fierce competition for workers across the economy. There are currently a record 1.2 million vacancies across the UK and headhunters are reporting booming business as companies struggle to find staff. At the same time, inflation means household costs are soaring, which could encourage low paid workers to move jobs to higher paid roles.
The likes of Aldi and Sainsbury’s have already announced plans to raise wages for their staff to £10 an hour.