Thursday 29 July 2021 11:18 am

Pret A Manger mulls expanding into coffee vending machines in move to diversify

Pret A Manger is set to expand into coffee vending machines. The sandwich chain is joining the trend, according to the Financial Times, to widen its product offering through automated dispensers as the sector suffers from the drop in commuters and staff shortages.

Earlier this month, the company’s application to trademark the name “Pret Express” was approved. The Intellectual Property Office filing shows the name under classes relating to “coffee vending and dispensing machines” as well as “self-service coffee bars”.

Since the pandemic hit, the shift to working for home advice greatly reduced the chain’s customer base, as office workers and tourists disappeared from city centres.

Pret earlier diversified its activity and range of products by launching a £20 per month coffee subscription and selling its ground coffee and espresso beans online via Amazon as well as on supermarket shelves. Coffee vending machines could be another step in this pivot.

“We don’t comment on speculation and we obviously take out trademarks all the time,” Pret told the FT.

Pret’s rival Costa Coffee is also trialling a new line of coffee machines able to deliver both hot and cold drinks. Costa already has a network of more than 10,000 vending machines in petrol stations and supermarkets such as Tesco and Coop. The new ‘Costa Express Hot & Iced Drinks Machine’ will offer a wider range of drinks and be trialled across 40 locations in Bristol this summer.

Other players in the automated coffee-making scene include chains such as Sainsbury’s, Starbucks and Carluccio’s. The restaurant chain most recently announced a trial for self-service machines serving its signature Italian coffee blends in supermarket chain Budgens.