Stoke Newington: Pret 'sorry' after staff tell indy café 'we'll steal your customers'

A mock up of how Stoke Newington Pret could look

A mock up of how Stoke Newington Pret could look - Credit: @stokeyupdates

Pret A Manger has apologised after employees of a new Stoke Newington branch told an independent coffee shop’s staff “we’re going to steal all your customers”. 

The café chain is set to open in Church Street this weekend but the company took a raft of criticism online after the incident at Atlas Grinds earlier this week. 

Heidi Early, of Stoke Newington Business Association, said: "We’re saddened to hear about the comments made by a member of the Pret team to an independent business. 

“Stoke Newington is an inclusive, welcoming community and when any new business opens, the spirit among the traders is one of collaboration rather than competition. Independent businesses give Stokey its character and charm - they’re a massive part of what attracts people here in the first place. A big chain threatening to steal customers from a fledgling independent will only alienate them from the community they’re seeking to serve.”

Pret will open inside the old Halifax bank branch where Church Street meets Stoke Newington High Street. There are already several branches nearby, with one near Finsbury Park, two on Holloway Road and another in Dalston. 

Atlas Grinds is described as a “much-loved, independent, LGBTQ+ friendly coffee shop” and a Twitter post on May 11 by Stoke Lit Fest drew nearly 100 engagements. 

Kate Revere, of the Stoke Newington Business Association, added: “The business association is being incredibly proactive about attracting people to the area. 

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“Our new seeyouinstokey.com website showcases all the amazing independents operating here, the beautiful nature reserves and thriving events programme and our Invisible People Arts Trail will display the work of people who feel marginalised. 

“Our approach to building our businesses will always be positive, community-minded and kind.”

Pret has previously said the new café will also support homeless people and others in need in the area by donating surplus food to local charities. 

A spokesperson added: “We have been made aware of an incident in which two employees made an ill-judged joke and we’ve since reached out to the shop owners to apologise.

“At Pret, we’re proud to be part of the communities we operate in, so we were disappointed to hear about these comments and they do not reflect the views of Pret as a business. 

“We’ve spoken to our employees to ensure this won’t happen again.”