The HR Director for Pret a Manger believes the company may struggle to find staff after Brexit
Andrea Wareham, a human resources director for the business, bleated to the House of Lords economic affairs select committee that her employers struggle to British workers and could struggle after Brexit.
According to the HR boss, the chain employs 110 different nationalities with 65 per cent of its workforce coming from the other 27 nations from across the EU.
If the company was forced to turn its back on EU nationals after Brexit, Ms Wareham said it would be virtually impossible to find enough staff.
Up to 65% of staff employed by the food chain are from other EU countries
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
Andrea Wareham, director of HR at Pret a Manger
She added: “[The difficulty], it’s not in selecting, it’s a difficulty in attracting, I would say one in 50 people who apply to our company to work is British.
“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.”
Ms Wareham did not disclose on average how many applications they received for a job vacancy.
But the HR boss added she did not think pay was a factor.
Pret a Manger is a popular store on British high streets
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Ms Wareham said pay packages in London start at £16,000 a year, which according average rent figures from the Greater London Authority would be enough to cover a worker’s rent and other expenses.
She added that staff can also earn “really good money” with pay, including bonuses, rising to £40,000 to £45,000 “within a few years” of joining.
But Ms Wareham revealed she was concerned that the Government was not investing enough into solutions for low-skilled immigrant workers or for enticing British nationals to seek employment in companies such as Pret after Brexit.
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She added: “We are entirely accepting that the number of EU nationals will go down over time.
“We would love to increase the number of British nationals and we are excited about this.”
Ms Wareham has urged the Government to help get the message out to teenagers that it was “a success” if you were 16, 17 or 18-years-old “and came to work at somewhere like Pret”.
She added: “It takes a long time to change hearts and minds. We need to work with education, career services, with parents, to find ways to collaborate.”
Her comments echo Tim Martin, the founder of pub chain JD Wetherspoon and a vocal Brexit campaigner, who said the nation could not afford to put the brake on immigration and called for a special deal for EU workers.