Sandwich chain Pret a Manger has announced plans to open more than 200 UK shops in the next two years, as it aims to become more than a “white collar worker’s staple”.
The business hopes to double its size within five years, with a £100m net investment by JAB and Pret founder Sinclair Beecham to accelerate its expansion.
While the company said it still values city centres in its growth plans, the chain’s focus will shift to residential and suburban areas.
Plans will also focus on transport hubs and motorways and include around 100 franchise shops.
The chain – which was hit hard when commuters left city centres deserted amid the pandemic – said its recovery was nearing pre-Covid levels. Shops in the City of London were recovering to over 72 per cent of pre-pandemic weekly sales.
Post-Covid, the chain said it now appeals to different customers, including younger consumers, as well as white collar workers.
The pandemic’s impact on the chain was laid bare in accounts filed this week at Companies House. Revenue for 2020 was £299m, down 58 per cent on £708m in 2019.
Pret’s operating loss for the year before tax and total comprehensive income was £256.5m.
New channels including delivery and a £20 coffee subscription model have served as an “antidote” to consumers reluctant to return to travel hubs and city centres, Pano Christou, chief executive officer, told CityA.M.
Christou said he believed hybrid working was here to stay and that city centres would evolve as they have after pandemics and wars in the past.
The chain has experienced quieter urban trade on Mondays and Fridays while experiencing busier levels on the mid-week days.
Menu innovation was slowed down during the pandemic but Pret has recently launched an autumn menu with new products. New recipe launches included a Chicken & Chilli Burrito and Naked Chicken Katsu Baguette.