A Chink in the Armour of a Firm

 

or as I call it a crack in the PR(et) facade!

 

With plenty of press on Pret now this one I’d like to put my salt on in-between some sentences of this article:

“It’s difficult to say when, but at some point over the last ten years Pret A Manger became ubiquitous.”

It’s very easy to say when, it was indeed 10 years ago when Bridgepoint bought Pret and set the target of opening shops at 15% per year. I can still feel it in my bones and mental health how we were driven while staff were cut to increase profit and a 7 times return for Bridgepoint’s investment and £30 million for CEO Clive Schlee.

 

“Pret’s coffee is organic, its sandwiches are handmade, its marketing is self-aware and it wants you to know that doing the right thing is “what makes Pret, Pret”.”

Handmade by human machines while “doing the right thing” ignoring numerous warnings from customers regarding allergen and labelling, bullying staff to the point of suicide including bereaved staff. It what makes Pret, Pret.

 

“There’s never a shortage of “avo” at Pret.”

And never a shortage of complaints how hard the avos are. I only copied this complaint as an example how Pret is kissing butt while a customer offends shop staff with the C-word. But there were many complaints on hard avo. Amazing also how some people’s days are “ruined” while others lose a child and a mother to Pret products. Poor pepo!

 

PretBehaviour01a

 

 

“The people at Pret are always happy, so happy that they might give you a free sandwich if they like you”

So happy. 🙂

 

“In fact, the staff at Pret are so happy that in 2013, the chain was accused of using “emotional labour” tactics – monitoring staff to ensure they retain a cheerful demeanour – on its own workforce.”

Correct. Staff are being bullied, ordered into the office when the Mystery Shopper, or as I call them the Misery Shopper, commented that the server didn’t smile. A good telling off in the office with plenty of fear management and fear for job security. Then the staff is send out and ordered to smile! Even during illness having a cold and during bereavement!

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Mystery Shopper comment: “Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”

 

The worst telling off I experienced was when a line manager, who himself never smiled, held a sermon in the kitchen with us team and said that smiling is part of the uniform! He then finished his speech and said that if anyone wants to say anything to say it ‘now’, then and there, or otherwise we shouldn’t come to him later. I lifted my hand and mentioned that I rather want to tell him something in private as I didn’t want to confront him in front of my team as I was their team leader wanting to lead by example not embarrassing the boss in front of them. But he maintained to speak up now and that later would be no opportunity.

So, I did. I said, “So-and-so, you never smile! (when serving customers)” … At least he changed a bit, but I certainly did not make friends saying this. Neither did I care.

 

“…the list of “behaviours” staff must exhibit reportedly contains over 50 items.”

Correct. A list of brainwashing that some staff threw into the bin.

 

“Pret ran into trouble earlier this year, when the Advertising Standards Authority took issue with two ads the company had run in 2016. Pret was found to have been “misleading” in its claims that products were “good natural food”. Whilst this didn’t grab headlines, it was a chink in the armour of a firm that’s clean and ethical image has been a source of its success.”

I appreciate the writer pointing out this being the “image”. It used to be quite dirty in Pret with pest problems that turned Pret into Pret A Mice until an EHO closed a shop and Pret only RE-acted, whereas before ignored staff’s and internal pest control people’s concerns.

 

“It was an early caution, perhaps, to the crisis that has engulfed the firm in the last two weeks where two of its customers were believed to have died after allergic reactions to is products.”

Plus one assistant manager who died by suicide last year that is known of within Pret and my repeated approach to confront Pret internally on this when I still worked in Pret, and now publicly, as I almost ended my life as well during my ordeal in Pret.

 

“It follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who passed away in 2016 after eating a Pret baguette that did not have any allergen labelling on its packaging.”

Not only on the packaging, but the fatal Sesame Natasha died of was missing on the fridge label of the “lovingly made” PR(et) baguette that Natasha and her dad read …

 

No Sesame on Label

(Sesame info missing)

 

… while each product that is given to charities for the homeless and people in need is being labeled with allergen info since years:

 

2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2

(Products with allergen labels for charity)

 

 

“Her father accused the chain of a “complete dereliction of duty””

… as well as being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and rightly so.

 

All in all you just got another crack in the wall

 

crack-695010_960_720

 

“Pret CEO Schlee said that the chain would “ensure meaningful change”, and will start “trialling full ingredient labelling, including allergens, on product packaging” from November.”

Trialling from November. Starbucks closed 8000 stores in the U.S. After their incidence with racial issues, training their staff. ACTION is the best PR! But Pret is going full steam ahead doing business as usual, trialling…….! A death, let alone TWO the public knows about doesn’t mean anything to this sweet-talking company. If that doesn’t tell people something of the reality behind the “doing the right thing ” with even the arrogant slogan that Pret’s HR has of “doing the right thing naturally”, then I rest my case!

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

“’We cannot begin to comprehend the pain the family have felt, and the grief they will continue to feel,’ said Schlee.”

He certainly took two years to “begin” to realize that he can’t begin to imagine and finally wrote to Natasha’s family!

 

“Was Pret too late to act? It is not legally required for stores to put allergy labels on food made on site, but the warning signs were there. According to the Times, Pret “ignored” nine cases of allergic incidents related to sesame, including six related to its “artisan baguettes”.”

More than nine!

 

“The lawyer for the Ednan-Laperouse family told a West London court that there was a “clear concern being repeatedly raised that artisan baguettes were causing sesame seed allergy problems, which were not properly responded to by Pret”. Pret’s compliance director said the firm responded appropriately to each individual complaint at the time.”

The Director of Risk-taking and Complacency did not respond properly.

 

“Schlee, who is reportedly set to pocket a £30m windfall when the JAB sale goes through, didn’t write to the bereaved relatives personally until this August, the family claims. Not a good look for a brand that trades on an image of wholesomeness and honesty.”

Anyone in business who claims honesty should always get a closer look!

 

“Despite being undoubtedly the biggest crisis in its history, no one expects the burgundy star to vanish from the high streets anytime soon. Its ruthless expansion under private investment is widely expected to continue stateside thanks to JAB’s experience in the American market (JAB also own Douwe Egberts coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts).”

Yes, that’s true, they will not vanish and I appreciate it being coined as “ruthless” expansion. They will just go through a year of a little nose-dive in profits and will re-emerge with more bull-crap PR. But I lived long enough to know that when people are lucky enough to be on their death-bed and able to look back on their lives and “achievements”, I don’t want to be in their skin.

 

“If the chain loses its avocado-driven charm, no number of free coffees will pep it up.”

That’s true, but also the time is coming when even Pret workers will start standing up with Unions and demand respectful treatment, apart from the poor wages and the brainwash they’re subjected under.

 

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