Regular readers of the NTI newsroom's bulletins will know that we have been a tad unsympathetic about Pret a Manger's single-use business plan, which has been summed up as; 'Open as many shops as possible and sell stuff'. The chain, founded by Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham in central London in 1986 and now owned by the JAB Holding Company, got on a late bus during the pandemic and started home deliveries in a few areas, but it didn't look like this would be enough to save 23 of its 28 stores in and around London's Kings Cross station.
However, for those who trip over a Pret store on the way to Tesco their fall could be broken by another Pret store in Tesco. It was announced at the beginning of this week that posh sandwiches and bags of dried mango are now to be made available to the proletariat, in what is described as a 'trial partnership' with none other than the people's supermarket. It marks efforts by the coffee chain to broaden its appeal, with boss Pano Christou saying he wanted to “bring Pret to the people”.
The question has to be asked what species were having Pret brought to them before? We all know that Michelle, and her like, come under the heading 'Homo Poshus', but the rest of us have been known to occasionally wipe our feet before entering a sandwich shop. The first concession will open in June at the Tesco superstore in Kensington with another three to follow this summer. 'Bringing Pret to the people' in Kensington eh, Pano? Not exactly spreading the word as far as you spread the butter there, are you?
Pano knows how to build a fan-base, as he went on to say: “ while Tesco is a bit more value and Pret is a bit more premium”, the sandwich chain was successfully attracting “all sorts of different customers” with its £20-a-month coffee subscription. You mean, such as people who drive Fords and Vauxhalls and have seen the inside of a caravan park otherwise than through the lens of a documentary?
We understand that Pret make all their sandwiches and salads on site, we just had no idea that they add a dash of supercilious condescension to the packaging. Pano added, “I said to the team, plant all those seeds now, see which ones come to fruition and which ones don’t, so when we finally come through this, we will be much stronger as a brand and a business, and ready to grow the Pret brand.”
Just don't make eye contact with all of those ... people, eh?