THE announcement that a Reading branch of cafe Pret will not be reopening due to lockdown losses has left locals "gutted".

The popular coffee chain announced the permanent closure of the Broad Street shop in the town centre, but The Oracle branch will remain open.

READ MORE: John Lewis confirms it WILL reopen Reading store but closes others nearby

Responding to news of one of the latest corporate victims of Covid-19, Tracy Holloway said: "Gutted this one is closing - staff are always friendly and been using it for years. Sad times."

Sarah Mundy echoed this view, saying: "This is such a shame, the manager is such a lovely bloke too."

It is understood that at least 1,000 jobs are at risk at the chain as part of the restructuring plan.

The company said recent sales have dived by almost three-quarters - 74 per cent - compared with the same period last year.

Sales and footfall have been hit hard by a heavy reduction in the number of people travelling into city centres for office work, with more people working from home due to the pandemic.

Jackie Brown posted on The Chronicle's Facebook announcement of the news: "Such a shame, sadly it appears a lot of Covid outbreaks occurring in food places that are making sandwiches etc.

"So maybe this is why less people buying pre prepared food", while Claire Banister commented: "sad news."

Pret said it will also reduce the number of staff working across its remaining UK stores to reflect the slump in demand.

The company said it has faced "significant operating losses" following the outbreak, despite having reopened over 300 of its sites.

Pret will soon start consultations with staff as it pushes forward with plans to shut these 30 sites in the second half of the year.

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Rachel Masters said she has been left 'very sad' by the news. She added: "I love Pret A Manger.

"They do have a couple more cafes in Reading so hopefully they won’t get shut - need my Italian chicken salad and chocolate brownie fix!"

Danny D'Arcy took a different view, commenting: "Pret is ok but they don’t need so many in one town. "I think they have a third one opposite the Three Guineas at Reading Station - same with Boots who've shut their station branch but have two more in town centre."