Pret a Manger to open 200 stores in two years after Covid bounce back

Pret closed 30 stores and axed thousands of jobs early in the pandemic

Zaina Alibhai
Wednesday 22 September 2021 14:30
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<p>Five-year plan: the sandwich shop is aiming to double the number of stores </p>

Five-year plan: the sandwich shop is aiming to double the number of stores

Pret a Manger will open more than 200 stores in the UK over the next two years after receiving a £100m cash injection.

The sandwich retail chain – hit hard by changes to working practices in lockdown – will ultimately aim to double its presence across the country in five years.

Pret plunged to a pre-tax operating loss of £256.5m last year, with revenues falling by 58 per cent to £299m, as it was forced to close stores for months at a time.

With Covid restrictions now eased, Pret has said regional shops are now at their strongest ever levels, while sites in the City of London are taking 72 per cent of pre-pandemic sales weekly.

The last stage of the chain’s recovery strategy will see it rapidly expand its estate using a £100m investment by owner JAB Holdings and founder Sinclair Beecham.

Pret is targetting transport hubs, motorway service stations and suburban areas as part of its expansion.

Pano Christou, Pret a Manger’s chief executive, said: “We obviously kept an eye on the way trends have shifted since the pandemic, and obviously areas such as service stations have been particularly busy, so that is why we have linked with Moto and Motor Fuel Group.

"We are seeing lots of property opportunities but it is unsurprisingly competitive for the best sites, but I think landlords see us as a really strong brand and are keen to bring Pret in."

The group has diversified its business operations since the start of the pandemic – which saw some 30 stores and thousands of jobs axed – seeking to ease its reliance on city workers for trade.

The chain launched retail coffee products, a coffee subscription service and expanded through delivery operators.

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