Double-digit growth on sales of vegetarian items, an increase in demand for breakfast-on-the-go and a passion for avocados has fuelled record results for Pret A Manager in 2015.
The sandwich chain has announced its financial results for 2015 with group sales up 14% to £676m, with 14% of sales coming from products introduced in the last year.
Pret’s US shops also performed well last year, becoming its fastest growing market in 2015.
Clive Schlee, chief executive of Pret A Manger, commented: “These results represent another year of record sales for Pret. The highlights were a strong performance in the US – our newly opened Penn Station shop has the highest sales per square foot of any Pret in the world – and the opening of two very busy transport hub shops in Paris’ Gare de Lyon station and Nice Airport. Pret continues to grow steadily in the UK, adapting its menu to meet demand for healthy options.”
Pret has regularly adapted its menu in line with growing demand for healthy options, this led to 14% of total sales coming from food and drink items introduced within the last year. New ranges include its grain-based SuperBowl salads. The best seller is a vegetarian Beets, Squash & Feta SuperBowl, selling 17,000 a week and out-performing both chicken and salmon options.
During 2015, Pret saw increasing interest in vegetarian products. The company engaged its customers in a social media debate, asking how it could create more delicious vegetarian food. 10,000 people voted on the subject and Pret has pledged to increase its vegetarian choices and will open a vegetarian-only pop-up shop in London this June.
Coffee remains an important area of growth for Pret, selling 1.5 million cups a week globally. Pret staff also handed out over 1 million free hot drinks last year, as part of the company’s alternative loyalty scheme which is based on the concept of ‘random acts of kindness’.
Schlee, added: “Last year thousands of customers told us they were trying to eat less meat. This year we have challenged ourselves to increase our vegetarian options in all shops, as well as opening a veggie-only pop-up shop to learn more from our customers. We will of course still focus on the essentials: engagement of our wonderful team members, the freshness and quality of our ingredients, and securing top class locations around the world. This gives us confidence for the year ahead.”
The US was Pret’s fastest growing market last year, achieving +13.8% like-for-like sales growth, driven by improvements in the quality of ingredients and innovation in salads and breakfast items. Opening larger shops in prime locations has also helped to grow sales.
Transport hubs continue to perform very well and Pret opened new shops in key locations, including Penn Station in New York, Nice Airport and Gare de Lyon station in Paris. A shop in Dubai International Airport also opened earlier this year.
During 2015 Pret opened 36 new shops: 23 in the UK (of which 12 were outside London), 6 in the US, 4 in France and 3 in Hong Kong. The total number of shops at the end of 2015 was 399, of which 303 were in the UK, 65 in the USA, 16 in Hong Kong, 14 in France and one in China.
Pret created 763 new jobs last year, of which 500 were in the UK, taking its total employee count to 9,860. Pret’s Apprenticeship Scheme helped a further 52 homeless people and ex-offenders back into work, and its UK School Leavers Programme took on 29 new participants in September.
In 2015, the Pret Foundation Trust (PFT) raised a record £1.7m, helped in part by record sales of its Christmas Lunch which carried a donation of 50p per sandwich. Pret also devoted its digital media budget and in-shop marketing channels at Christmas to a number of the charities it supports to highlight their work.
The PFT donations helped to fund three main initiatives: delivering nightly food donations to charities and hostels; financial aid for over 100 small charities; and funding Pret’s Apprenticeship Scheme to give homeless people and ex-offenders the chance to re-join the workforce.
Pret A Manger opened in London in 1986. Pret’s sandwiches, salads and wraps are handmade fresh in-shop each day using natural, preservative-free, ethically sourced ingredients. The food doesn’t have a ‘sell-by’ date; Pret offers unsold food to charity at the end of the day. Pret currently has 401 shops, the majority in the UK. The company was the subject of a management buyout in February 2008, which saw European private equity firm Bridgepoint acquire a majority stake.