Sandwich Chiefs Sell a [Pounds Sterling]26m Slice to McDonald's; Fears for Quality as Fast Food Giant Moves in on Pret A Manger

Daily Mail (London), February 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Sandwich Chiefs Sell a [Pounds Sterling]26m Slice to McDonald's; Fears for Quality as Fast Food Giant Moves in on Pret A Manger


Byline: DARREN BEHAR

ITS sandwiches have become a byword for quality in a market dominated by fast, processed food.

But yesterday, Pret A Manger, known for its exotic fillings such as crayfish and roquette, stunned customers by announcing it had sold a third of its business to the temple of the hamburger - McDonald's.

Sandwich enthusiasts immediately called on the firm - started by two students 15 years ago - not to change its highly successful formula. Jim Winship, of the British Sandwich Association, said: 'I would hope that Pret does not change.

'It's doing a successful job for Britain's sandwich consumers. That success does not need tinkering with now.' The firm prides itself on using natural additive-free ingredients. It makes its sandwiches fresh every day, giving unsold food to charities for the homeless.

Pret, which has 100 stores and is owned by Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe, said the deal will help it expand worldwide and will not alter the quality of its food.

The last time Pret was linked to a sale the price tag was thought to be about [pounds sterling]80million, and yesterday there was speculation that McDonald's had paid [pounds sterling]26million for its 33 per cent share.

Mr Metcalfe said: 'This partnership gives us access to the resources to help take our passion beyond the UK. It means that we can do what we do best - focus on our customers, our food and our people. McDonald's has invested in us because they like what they see and what they eat.

'They want us to stay just the way we are - our style, our people and culture will remain steadfastly at the heart of what we do.' The contrast between the relative minnow and its new American partner could not be more stark: McDonald's is the largest fast food chain in the world with more than 28,000 restaurants in 120 countries. …

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