Hot sauce: Tesco launches new sandwich store to fight Pret A Manger

Catherine Neilan
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Tesco launched its new sandwich store format today, which includes a tie-up with new London eatery Fred's
Another day, another sandwich bar opens. So what's new?
Well this time, it's Tesco which is launching a brand new sandwich shop format – selling premium subs and hot breakfast to City workers.
This morning the supermarket opened its first small format sandwich store, conveniently located a stone's throw away from City AM's offices and in the shadow of the Walkie Talkie building (less often known as 20 Fenchurch Street).

It may not look like much from outside - but wait until you get indoors

We walked past the store this morning with little more than an acknowledgement that it had opened – the exterior isn't much to write home about. However, on a return visit our venture inside was another story.

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Tesco anymore

Open at 6am, the humble-looking Tesco Express looks very little like a Tesco Express. Where is the Tesco branding? It is there but it is overwhelmed by the red neon lights and computer screens advertising another brand.

This is a tie-up with emerging eatery Fred's (or Fed by Fred if you're looking online) which co-founder Daniel Gestetner says is going after the customers that spend Pret prices for but want a high quality Subway-style meal.

Fred's founders Daniel Gestetner (left) and Paul Goodale tuck in.

For breakfast, served from 6:30am, you can choose from a grill selection ranging from 'Lotsa Lox' (smoked salmon) to the 'Broadway Breakfast' (two eggs, sausage, bacon or ham, cheddar sauce, jalapeno hash brown), while for lunch it's New York deli-style subs that include salt beef, or ham, turkey and cheese. There is a 'carb-free' SLT (salmon, lettuce and tomato) on offer but I defy anyone to walk out with something so healthy.

This is not the first tie-up between the two companies – Fred's opened in Tesco's 12,000 sq ft Osterley store earlier this year – but it is the first time it has gone for the working lunch market, and being located in the Square Mile gives an indication of the space the two businesses hope to play in.
They are also conscious of time constraints that the hungry worker has, so you can order and pay online to skip the queue – a nifty development in click-and-collect shopping. Eventually the store will be able to deliver to offices. Both of these will be useful because the store really is too small to cope if it becomes popular.

Tesco/Fred staff member Joy was very enthusiastic about the click and collect options

Prices are slightly higher than Pret and Eat – it's £5.50 for today's most popular the Reuben (salt beef) and £5.95 for the second favourite Mile High (ham, turkey, cheese melt and egg) but it does seem you are getting what you pay for, both in terms of quality and volume. Cheaper options include Tesco sandwiches, and there are also the usual crisps and snacks that you would find in the supermarket to accompany the sub. Wine is also sold by the disposable glass.

That's a little bit more what we were expecting from a Tesco sandwich shop

Gestetner says Tesco and Fred's are now looking for locations in the City and West End to roll out further – he would like to have another two joint-concept branches open by the end of the year, depending on demand. Phase two will be to move outside London.
It's a good concept that should do well with City workers looking for some warm comfort food as the cold weather draws in. Of course it will do little to comfort flighty investors while it's still in trial phase, but as Tesco itself says: every little helps.


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