Magazine article Marketing

Pret A Manger

Magazine article Marketing

Pret A Manger

Article excerpt

The sandwich shop chain has gone from losing pounds 80,000 in its first year in the 80s to become a pounds 350m business.

The humble sandwich, a British lunchtime staple, has helped launch an empire in the form of Pret A Manger.

Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham started a delicatessen after finding that there was a lack of quality lunchtime food on offer in 80s London. The venture lost pounds 80,000 in its first year and reportedly pushed them close to bankruptcy.

With a bank loan, the duo quit their jobs to try again, with a shop beside Victoria railway station. This time, they were serving more than 7000 customers a week within the first year, and Metcalfe and Beecham slowly built the fast sandwich idea into a business worth pounds 350m.

It provided three main selling points; the food was fresh, tasty and fast. British office workers were introduced to the delights of Thai avocado and spinach sandwiches and Moroccan falafel and hummus.

Developing the range to include fare such as sushi, soups and porridge, Pret was creating, as much as reacting to, changing tastes.

Its porridge recipe took three years to perfect, such was the chain's desire for quality. The commitment to fresh, sustainable food, free of additives, began before these qualities became buzzwords.

The sandwiches are made fresh every day in Pret's own kitchens, using ingredients from numerous carefully chosen suppliers. Leftovers are given to the homeless at the end of the day.

Pret also echoes this natural approach elsewhere, with 90% recyclable packaging that makes the food the focus, with simple names and colour schemes that don't obscure the produce.

Staff adhere to strict guidelines, which even include making sure fillings go right up to the edge of the bread. If a sandwich doesn't meet these standards, it won't make it to the shop floor.

Pret sells 30m sandwiches and baguettes a year, and it's hard to imagine what much of Britain would be eating every lunchtime without it Expansion to other countries has been tentative, although it was heralded as 'the best British invasion since The Beatles' in one review when it launched in the US.

PRET TIMELINE

1992: Pret A Manger expanded with the addition of two shops in London.

1990s: The chain became the first retailer to move from plastic to cardboard packaging.

2000: Co-founder Sinclair Beecham was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to the catering industry. …

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