Pret plans suburban expansion and shift into retail as it looks to evolve

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Pret A Manger Pano Christou plans suburban expansion and shift into retail business evolution restructuring

Related tags: Pret a manger, Coronavirus

Pret A Manger will evolve into a 'multi-channel business' with dark kitchens, more suburban sites and a shift into retail all planned.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday​, Pret chief executive Pano Christou said the company had ditched its corporate mantra of 'follow the skyscraper' and replaced it with a new one - 'follow the customer'.

He said: "If you focus on waiting for things to get back to normal, as far as I'm concerned, you're dead.

"We are telling our staff, do not focus on when people come back to offices, focus on where our customers are.

"Yes, workers will be in offices less frequently, but we have a great brand and a great product.

"We need to look at how customer behaviour is changing, and how we can adapt our business model to that."

To that end, Pret has already announced plans to launch an in-shop coffee subscription service called YourPret Barista​, which goes live tomorrow (8 September) and will give users up to five ‘barista-prepared’ drinks per day for a fixed monthly price of £20.

As part of the national launch, the first month is being offered for free to all subscribers. 

However, with the impact of the Coronavirus having set sales back 10 years and trade across the chain's 367 high street sites still down 60% year on year, Christou has said he is also working on other plans to evolve the brand and ensure its survival.

"We want to reach everyone, wherever they are," he told the Mail on Sunday​.

"The plan for Pret now is how do we evolve this brand to become a multi-channel business – whether we are providing lunches for office workers, for people working at home, or students learning online."

Those plans include a shift into retail.

Next month, Pret will start selling bags of coffee in Waitrose, and plans to launch a range of pre-packaged food in other major retailers in the new year.

The chain is also building up its delivery business through Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat and recently opened its first dark kitchen site in Colindale, north London, with more sites in the pipeline.

It has begun trialling a scheme popular in the US too, where offices have 'Pret Office Drops' that allow workers to order food through an app and collect it from Pret shelving installed in their office.

There are also plans to open more suburban sites, with Pret currently in the process of developing a hot dinner menu to deliver meals to people's homes.

As a result of the downturn, Pret is in the process of undergoing a major restructure, with 30 of its branches shuttered permanently​ and 2,800 staff made redundant​. 

With the majority of Pret’s reopened stores running on significantly reduced operating hours, it has also asked staff to work approximately 20% fewer hours​ than before the pandemic.

Over the weekend it was announced that Pret UK shops director Tom Sugarman would be leaving the business, while food and coffee director Guy Meakin has been made trading director as part of the restructuring. 

Related topics: Business

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