Announcement comes one day before Pret’s acquisition of UK food-to-go competitor, EAT, is due to take effect
Pano Christou first joined Pret as an assistant store manager in 2000 and will take on the role of CEO in September 2019
UK food-to-go chain Pret A Manger has announced its CEO, Clive Schlee, will retire in September 2019 after 16 years in the role. He will be succeeded by current Pret COO, Pano Christou, who first joined the chain as an assistant store manager in 2000.
Since 2003, Schlee is credited with overseeing the expansion of Pret from UK-based chain to a multi-billion-pound global brand operating more than 550 stores across nine international markets.
An eventful final year for Schlee as CEO saw German conglomerate JAB Holdings acquire Pret
for a rumoured £1.5bn in June 2018. In September 2018, Schlee oversaw the roll-out of the Pret Allergy Plan
after 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died from an allergic reaction to a baguette, an incident which prompted an industry-wide review of food labelling. In May 2019, Pret announced it would acquire
90-strong food-to-go competitor, EAT, in order to develop its ‘Veggie Pret’ vegetarian store concept.
“There is never an easy time to stop being CEO of a wonderful company, but with the completion of our EAT deal tomorrow, and the roll out of the Pret Allergy Plan, now is a good time for a new CEO to take Pret on the next stage of its journey,” said Schlee in a press statement.
Schlee’s successor, Pano Christou, began working as an Assistant Manager at Pret’s Carnaby Street store in London 19 years ago before working his way up Managing Director of Pret UK in 2014 and COO at the start of 2019.
“I am honoured to follow Clive as CEO. Pret has big plans for the next few years – integrating EAT, developing Veggie Pret, delivering our digital transformation, and leading the way in supporting customers with allergies. I want to thank Clive for his leadership over the last sixteen years, and we look forward to building on his legacy," he said.