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Pret unveils £100m expansion plan despite losses

The group plans to open around 200 new UK stores over the next two years alone, with more than 100 stores set to be franchises

Pret A Manger has unveiled plans to double the size of its business within the next five years, as it looks to expand into five new markets by the end of 2023. 

In addition, the group plans to open around 200 new UK stores over the next two years alone, with more than 100 stores set to be franchises, largely located in regional and suburban areas. 

The planned expansion will be supported by a new £100m “war chest” from shareholders at JAB, as well as Pret founder Sinclair Beecham. 

Pret, which already operates sites in the USA, France, Dubai and Hong Kong, said the plans form part of a move to shift the business from “following the skyscraper”.

The first major UK franchise partnership was signed over the summer, and further agreements are expected later this year. Many of the new shops are set to be located in transport hubs and motorway service stations, further building on Pret’s existing partnership with independent forecourt operator, MFG, and motorway services operator, Moto. 

Alongside the new store openings, Pret also plans to roll out a recruitment programme with the aim to hire at least 3,000 employees by the end of 2023. 

Despite the £100m expansion plan, the group recently reported that losses hit £256m in 2020, while revenue fell to £299m, down from £708m in 2019. Nonetheless, recovery has reportedly “gathered pace” in the last month, with trade now approaching pre-pandemic levels.

In addition, the number of employees now working across the business has grown 28% since the start of 2020, with over 6,000 employees in the UK alone. 

Pret’s CEO, Pano Christou, said: “Last year we were in the eye of the storm during the height of the pandemic. 

“Now we have the chance to build a bright new future for Pret. “What the pandemic has shown us is that even at the darkest moments, more people want to experience Pret – whether that’s customers outside of London and other big cities, new franchise partners who want to work with us here and overseas, investors in our business, or people who want to grow their careers here and be part of what we’re trying to build.” 

He added: “It’s been an incredibly tough two years, but we have an incredible opportunity ahead. Last year, we delivered more change than in thirty years of Pret history. As we move into the next phase of our transformation, we want to keep the same pace of innovation, but use it to drive new growth.”

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