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Pret Finds That All Its Fancy New Ideas Can’t Beat Good Old-Fashioned Wads of Cash

200 more maroon sandwich behemoths could be on their way in two years after £100 million of investment

One of the Pret A Manger branch seen in central London
With its cherished office presence diminished, Pret a Manger has been trying myriad strategies.
Petra Figueroa/SOPA Images

Respect is due to Pret a Manger, for simple honesty. After all is said and done — after the constipation-beating coffee subscription; after the frozen croissants in supermarkets; after the attempt to make people eat Pret lunch for Pret dinner; after the 1,000 staff put out of work; after the myriad attempts to bring its maroon-monogrammed napkins and cheerily copy-written coffee blends into the home — it has thrown up its hands, put down the crayfish and avocado, and admitted that nothing says “recover” like receiving one hundred million pounds with which to do so.

It plans to use the coin from owner JAB Holdings, founder Sinclair Beecham, and other shareholders to open 200 Prets in the next two years — not just in its usual high-footfall office locations, but in more residential ones; in service stations; at petrol station forecourts. It closed 30 cafes in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 of them in London and many in what were once commuter centres, So yes, some of its existential changes are going to continue, just, now, they have one hundred million pounds behind them.

As recently as August 2021, it maintained that it would keep pay cuts introduced during the pandemic, because of the “big impact on our business,” but it hadn’t skimped on reinventing its offer in the months between March 2020 and then. It has since announced a 5 percent pay rise, in part to account for the hiring spree needed to staff 200 more sites, a move made easier by suddenly being given access to one hundred million pounds.

And per the Independent, “Pret plunged to a pre-tax operating loss of £256.5m last year, with revenues falling by 58 per cent to £299m.” Those losses are steep — despite the unprecedented circumstances in which they took place — but, still, despite it all, it can rest a little easier, all thanks to the little bit of help from one hundred million pounds.

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