Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Round One. in the Battle of the BLTs; 'EAT' WINS SANDWICH TASTE TEST AS IT PLANS TO DOUBLE ITS OUTLETS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Round One. in the Battle of the BLTs; 'EAT' WINS SANDWICH TASTE TEST AS IT PLANS TO DOUBLE ITS OUTLETS

Article excerpt

Byline: LECH MINTOWT-CZYZ;KIRAN RANDHAWA

IT is one of the High Street's fiercest battlegrounds.

The war for the office worker's lunchtime loyalty has seen supermarkets, coffee shops and specialist outlets compete, with low prices and ever more exotic fillings, in an attempt sell their sandwiches.

According to the British Sandwich Association, the industry is worth around [pounds sterling]3.5billion.

And the news that the sandwich chain EAT is plotting an aggressive expansion - doubling its shops in London to 70 - will make the struggle more intense.

With any luck, the only casualty should be soggy, tasteless sandwiches with miserly fillings.

To find out what competition EAT faces as it takes on old favourites such as Marks & Spencer and chains such as Pret a Manger, the Standard asked celebrity chef Rowley Leigh, of the Kensington Place restaurant, to sample sandwiches from high street shops. The results make grim reading for Pret, which didn't make the top three, and should be a wakeup call for others.

After sampling sandwiches from EAT, Pret, M&S, Waitrose, Benjys, Boots and Starbucks, Mr Leigh declared EAT to be ahead by "quite some margin".

EAT, founded by Niall MacArthur with his wife Faith nine years ago, now employs 130 people and had sales worth [pounds sterling]37.7million in the year to June from its 41 outlets.

Mr MacArthur says he is the business brains while Faith is the creator of the fillings and soups.

About 200,000 people a week shop at EAT, and the chain plans to expand to 100 shops nationwide with [pounds sterling]39 million from venture capitalists Penta Capital and Barclays bank.

Rowley Leigh's verdict on High Street sandwiches

Winner: EAT Ham and Jarlsberg on a white baguette, [pounds sterling]2.70.

Freshness: The baguette is a bit soft but it is otherwise quite good. It is clearly freshly made and the texture is quite pleasant as a result - 8/10.

Flavour: The cheese is decent and the ham is of reasonable quality. …

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