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The New York Times has a story about the struggles at sandwich chain Pret A Manger, which had become a ubiquitous part of London's work life but has found lately that its stores may be its greatest weakness - especially in a city where offices remain closed and workers remain at home.

"The pandemic has turned back the clock on Pret’s accounts by a decade," the Times writes.  "In August, weekly sales in Britain were about 5.5 million pounds ($7.1 million), barely more than in August 2010, when it had about 150 fewer stores. It has laid off 2,890 people, a third of its staff. Thousands of those who remain have gone from 35-hour contracts to 28 hours a week."

Pret, the story says, "has become a symbol of the needy city center struggling without commuters."

Which is why it seems willing to "try anything" to get some traction:

"It wants to sell Pret food in supermarkets, and has already begun selling coffee beans on Amazon; it has signed up to all the major food delivery platforms to take its sandwiches, soups and salads to its work-from-home customers, and opened a so-called dark kitchen in North London to prepare its food strictly for delivery, modeled on the success of Sweetgreen and Shake Shack, and hopes to open another dark kitchen in either New York or New Jersey soon; and it is devising a special menu of hot evening meals for delivery, such as a Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl.

"Then there is the coffee subscription, an effort to drive people back to the stores: Five drinks a day made by a barista (coffees, teas and smoothies) for £20 a month. On the face of it, it could be an extraordinarily good deal. With two lattes a week, a subscriber will break even. And the first month is free."

Pano Christou, Pret's CEO, tells the Times that this is "an opportunity for Pret to become a different type of company. Rather than worry about whether workers will return to their offices and what the government’s advice will be, Pret needs to transform."

KC's View:

This actually takes us back to one of the points being made by PMA's Cathy Burns, which I talked about in FaceTime today - that change happens to you, but transformation is something you do.

If you start from the premise that a business model has been built for a specific time and place, it becomes axiomatic that as times and circumstances change, so must the business model.