It is rigorous learning with a sparkle at Pret A Manger

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 6 September 2011



(2011), "It is rigorous learning with a sparkle at Pret A Manger", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

It is rigorous learning with a sparkle at Pret A Manger

Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 43, Issue 6

Training for the entire staff at Pret A Manger helped the sandwich chain to increase its profit throughout the recession.

In 2008, the company carried out a large-scale restructuring of its retail-management organization, the biggest single change in its 24-year history. To support the restructuring, Pret established a training academy with the goal of raising quality and customer service.

The academy was charged with delivering training that would be simple, fresh and engaging for Pret’s general managers, assistant managers, leaders, and kitchen and front-of-house staff.

Pret also sought to clarify their roles, making general managers completely accountable for their individual businesses, and assistant managers and leaders responsible for either the kitchen or front-of-house operation.

Through the academy, the company conducted a large and detailed training-needs analysis and established a strategic framework and values for the new training. Its seven-strong team analysed every new job description and associated behaviours, and assigned a measurable training solution to each.

This formed the basis of a comprehensive training dictionary, which is constantly updated according to business needs and remains a valuable reference point for all staff.

The academy developed five integrated training pathways with their own workbooks, and ran dynamic and engaging classroom-training sessions that catered for all styles of learning.

The training also offered graduation within a three-month period, which is linked to promotion and an immediate pay rise. Employees have an on-the-job review to evaluate their performance against their job description and associated behaviors, and receive extra training if required.

Between 2008 and 2009, 2,452 delegates attended pathway courses. Then in 2009, at the height of the recession, Pret ran interactive front-of-house and kitchen development fairs, attended by 250 delegates.

The training, which won a regional prize in the National Training Awards, has been a success. In financial terms, the company exceeded its targets, achieving earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization in 2009 of 11 percent, during tough trading conditions.

Other measures, including like-for-like sales, food quality, service, cleanliness and waste, all indicate the positive impact of the academy curriculum and development fairs.

Staff-retention rates are high, with turnover of weekly-paid retail staff at 59 percent, compared with an industry average of 150 percent. More than a quarter of employees have been with Pret for longer than five years.

Andrea Wareham, director of people at Pret A Manger, said: “The Pret academy has delivered training of extraordinary depth and scale. Rigorous learning is achieved with a sparkle, which our trainees then take back to our shops. We have always had good training at Pret, but now it is even more systemized and focused on business need.

“As a result, managers understand exactly what is expected of them and are trained to fulfil clear roles and responsibilities. This in turn drives all aspects of performance in our shops.

“We know that the training has improved the morale of our management population, directly contributed to our high customer-satisfaction scores and made a positive impact on our bottom line. Our staff attribute their long service in large part to the opportunities for development we give our people.”

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