We look at recently unveiled plans on how food-to-go specialist Pret a Manger intends to expand further.
New locations: UK motorway services
Last week Pret announced it had reached a deal with UK motorway services operator Roadchef to expand into new service areas. Interestingly this agreement follows an initial one site trial with rival motorway services operator Welcome Break, with a single store operated on the M25’s South Mimms services since August 2016.
Initially, two sites will open, one in the North West, at Chester Services on the M56 and the other at Clackett Lane on London's M25. Pret’s expansion onto more motorway services is consistent with its current wider expansion focus, of targeting more locations outside Central London for its UK expansion strategy. Pret is a highly operationally efficient and distinctive operator, and traditionally has been focused on keeping ownership and control of its estate to ensure it retains these strengths across its operation, with each store requiring its own kitchen to produce and prepare menu items on site. This move, with Roadchef likely to be operating the sites on a franchise basis, is therefore a test for both parties, prior to any potential wider rollout.
Interestingly, we’re seeing a growing interest on the part of motorway services operators in working with a wider range of food-to-go partners. Fellow food-to-go specialist Leon has expanded onto a Roadchef services at Norton Canes on the M6 Toll, while salad specialist Tossed is present across six Welcome Break service areas.
New markets: Netherlands and Denmark
Pret is also expanding across new borders, initially, it seems, in transport hubs. One store is currently under construction in Denmark, in Copenhagen Airport, while in the Netherlands it has recently been reported that Pret will open in Utrecht station, the Netherland’s biggest and busiest rail interchange. Pret has developed a fantastic reputation for its brand, and a highly impressive business, and is rightly regarded as a key benchmark for food-to-go innovation.Its ability to manage and maintain this outstandingly consistent level of quality, service and operational efficiency across an increasingly geographically and operationally diverse business will however be an important determinant of future success.