Hundreds of jobs are at risk as Pret a Manger prepares to close around one in ten of its UK sandwich shops.
The huge chain, which runs around 450 branches across the UK, says sales were decimated by lockdown.
It is understood the chief executive, Pano Christou, will make the devastating announcement on Wednesday but as many as 800 people are likely to lose their jobs.
The major restructuring will see 45 shops shut, reports Mail on Sunday.
During lockdown, there has been a vast cut in footfall in towns and city centres where many Pret a Manger stores are based. The firm is now unable to meet many of its rent payments.
After appointing City advisers in May, the chain is believed to be considering a range of restructuring options. These include a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) insolvency process, which would allow Pret to close unprofitable sites.
Pret, which was founded in 1986, has raised €100 million (£91 million) in emergency funding from its banks since the start of the pandemic and cut executive pay.
Christou, though, has warned its “mid to long- term” outlook “remains very unknown”.
A Pret spokesman said: “We will update our team members in early July once the plan has been finalised.”
The lockdown has hit the sector massively. For instance, the Casual Dining Group, which owns Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge, has entered administration, with dozens of restaurants across the UK at risk.
More than 1,900 jobs are set to be axed, though 4,000 are reportedly secure for now.