As it tries to restart and reshape its business following a lengthy closure, Pret A Manger is reportedly in discussions to bring in a €100m loan from international banks. The quick-service restaurant chain had started a gradual opening of 10 sites located close to NHS hospitals and decreased its menu to only 11 products, the Financial Times reported.
Santander, HSBC and BNP Paribas were in discussions to offer Pret A Manger the loans per unnamed sources in the report. The three financial institutions assisted in funding the £1.5bn takeover of Pret in 2018 by JAB. And, in July of 2019, Pret had grown its senior term loan to £570m by £65m to pay for competing British café company EAT.
Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret, said per the report, “As a business coming out of this, we might look different, possibly smaller. I wish I could tell you in six months what size of Pret will be. What I can tell you is that Pret will still be there.”
Christou said the restaurant firm had sufficient funds to weather the current lockdown; however, it needed money for a “test and learn stage” to create new systems and items post-coronavirus.
The executive also noted that the company had not tried to access government loan programs. Bigger chains in the United States, like Shack Shack, have faced controversy as they tried to protect employee wages by accessing a government loan program meant for small companies.
Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack, and Randy Garutti, the chief executive officer (CEO), said on Monday (April 20) that they were giving back the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the federal government that was part of the COVID-19 stimulus package.
They said in a letter on LinkedIn, “We now know that the first phase of the PPP was underfunded, and many who need it most, haven’t gotten any assistance.”