He will retire at the end of September and will be replaced by Pano Christou, the group’s current chief operating officer (COO).
During Schlee’s tenure Pret’s sales grew tenfold to see it become a billion-pound business, with over 550 sites across nine markets.
His departure comes at an interesting juncture for the group, which will complete its takeover of rival café chain Eat tomorrow (2 July), with plans to convert much of its estate to the Veggie Pret brand.
Pret is also overhauling its allergy labelling following the recent deaths of two customers who suffered allergic reactions after eating food bought at the chain.
Schlee, who will maintain a role in the business as non-executive director, says: “There is never an easy time to stop being CEO of a wonderful company, but with the completion of our Eat deal tomorrow, and the roll out of the Pret Allergy Plan, now is a good time for a new CEO to take Pret on the next stage of its journey. I’m really pleased Pano is taking over. He knows our shops through and through and will keep Pret true to the values that have underpinned its success.”
Christou started as an assistant manager in Carnaby St Pret 19 years ago and worked his way up to become managing director of Pret UK in 2014 and COO at the start of this year.