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Pret A Manger's London suburb locations lead UK sales recovery

The food-to-go and coffee chain continues to report broad UK sales recovery, with its suburban store strategy appearing to pay off as stores outperform city centre outlets where footfall remains lower amid increased hybrid office working

Pret has sought to refocus its brick-and-mortar business on neighbourhood locations over the past year | Photo credit: Marco Verch via Flickr



Pret A Manger stores in London’s suburbs were trading a quarter higher in early May 2022 than before Covid-19, as more people work from home for part of the week, according to the latest Bloomberg Pret Index.
 
The data will be welcome news for Pret, which saw sales decimated by Covid-19 trading restrictions and the loss of commuter footfall during Covid-19 lockdowns in the UK.

The food-to-go and coffee chain has since sought to refocus its brick-and-mortar business on neighbourhood locations over the past year to cater to hybrid home-and-office working.

Bloomberg’s index, which tracks Pret’s sales volumes as indicator of wider economic health, also reports sales in the capital’s entertainment and shopping district broadly recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
 
Sales in London’s airport terminals are approaching a pandemic high set in April. The London-based food-to-go and coffee chain is opening a new store at Heathrow in the coming weeks as business and leisure travel from and within the UK continues to climb. Sales in London train stations are hovering around pre-pandemic levels.
 
Pret is also planning to target sales potential in transport hubs and motorway service stations, building on Pret’s existing partnership with independent forecourt operator, MFG, which operates the BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco, JET and Murco fuel brands, and motorway services operator, Moto.
 
In October 2021 Pret launched ‘Pret Express’ machines provided by fellow JAB Holdings brand JDE Peet’s at on-the-go locations such as service stations and convenience stores. The self-serve machines were installed to tackle a 58% decline in revenues in 2020 as pandemic trading restrictions severely limited footfall.
 
The Pret Index reports that high transmission rates of Covid-19 and increased hospitalisations as a result of the pandemic in the US in early 2022 have negatively impacted sales in New York, where the chain operates more than 60 stores. Pret’s sales in downtown New York, including Wall Street and Tribec, are back to less than half of what they were before the pandemic, ‘lagging months behind London’s financial districts’.

In September 2021, Pret introduced a coffee subscription service in the US following a successful rollout across the UK to offset reduced footfall to its more traditional stores.
 
Other cities cited in the index include Paris, where transactions at Pret’s 21 stores are almost back to normal and sales are approaching a pandemic high set in March 2022, and Hong Kong, where sales are at the highest level they’ve been since January 2022 as the city recovers from a surge in cases in the spring. Pret currently operates in 17 locations across Hong Kong.
 
Pret will enter the Irish market later this year with a first Dublin store expected to open this Summer.
 
The Pret Index is calculated against a baseline from January 2020, before the pandemic upended the cities tracked.

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