Pret a Manger distances itself from founder after lockdown comments prompt anger

Pret a Manger has distanced itself from founder Julian Metcalfe after he urged the Government not to introduce another lockdown to save a “few thousand lives”.

Mr Metcalfe, who sold his remaining stake in the coffee chain last year but still owns the majority of high-street restaurant Itsu, prompted an angry response online after being quoted in the Daily Mail as saying that “society will not recover if we do it (lockdown) again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people”.

He added: “The young people of this country will be paying for this for the next 20 to 30 years. It’s terrible what’s happening. Just because France does this with its socialist government, doesn’t mean we have to.”

Pret later tweeted: “We are aware of Julian Metcalfe’s comments this morning, but he has not run the business for over ten years and we do not agree with his opinion.

“We at Pret strongly believe we must take steps to stop the spread of the virus and tackle the new wave of infections.”

When contacted for a response to the comments, an Itsu spokeswoman claimed “the quote was taken out of context”, but offered no explanation of how or what Mr Metcalfe had intended to say.

Mr Metcalfe has been a vocal critic of the Government’s approach to coronavirus, recently describing Boris Johnson’s leadership as nothing more than “sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense”.

He also attacked the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a call for office workers to stay at home if possible as “criminal”.