Pret A Manger, the popular sandwich and coffee chain, said it will struggle to staff its 296 UK outlets after Brexit.
Andrea Wareham, Pret’s director of human resources has told the House of Lords economic affairs select committee that the company receives just one in 50 job applications from Brits.
Sixty-five percent of its current employees come from the European Union (EU).
If I had to fill all our vacancies with British-only people I would not be able to fill them because of the lack of applications,” said Wareham.
In response to questioning from Labour peer Lord Darling, who sits on the committee, Wareham said she did not think higher wages would attract more UK-born applicants.
In London, Pret’s starting salary is £16,000 a year.
“I actually don’t think increasing pay would do the trick, I can only talk for Pret on this, but we do pay well above the National Living Wage, we do have great benefits and we offer fantastic careers.
Staff can earn “really good money” with pay, including bonuses, rising to £40,000 to £45,000 “within a few years” of joining, she added.
Her comments echo concerns raised by Brexit secretary David Davis who admitted it would take “years and years” to fill jobs in sectors that rely heavily on migrants, such as hospitality and social care if the UK were to completely “shut the door” to low-skilled workers from Europe.
Verdict reached out to other coffee chains operating in the UK including Greggs and Costa asking whether they share Pret’s post-Brexit recruitment fears, but received no response.