Industry pioneers put Pret on a pedestal

Pret A Manger has emerged as the ‘most admired’ brand by UK foodservice entrepreneurs, who claim the sandwich giant’s consistency and high standards leave rivals trailing in its wake.

In Horizons’ latest Ones to Watch survey, which tracks the growth of fledgling chains on the high street, company founders and CEOs were asked which foodservice operators they most admired.

Pret, Nando’s and Itsu were all highlighted as admired brands, as well as Starbucks and Innocent Smoothie for the fact they appeal to a wide audience.

The survey found the majority of brand owners are upbeat about future trading, with over half (54%) planning to open more than five outlets in the next 12 months, a significant increase on last year’s response (35%).

Shopping centres top the target locations for expansion (mentioned by 86% in March 2015, compared with 47% in October 2014), with out-of-town retail parks second (up from 18% to 63%) and transport hubs third (up from 24% to 83%).

Many respondents say they are targeting London for expansion — 92% in March 2015, compared with 82% in October 2014 – while 89% are targeting other town centres and high streets.

Property availability remains the biggest challenge to overcome, mentioned by 38% of the respondents, along with the cost of property (38%), staffing costs (nearly 18%) and food costs (6%).

In this latest Ones to Watch survey [April 2015] the fastest growing brand over the past three years in percentage terms is Birmingham-based Indian burrito brand Wrapchic, which since its launch in 2012 with a single unit, now has an estate of 10 outlets, including one in central London. It aims to double its size this year.

Gourmet burger brand Five Guys has the highest number of new outlets in the survey, opening 23 new sites since it first entered the UK in Summer 2013. Three further sites have opened since Ones to Watch was collated, with at least three more about to open. The company aims to eventually operate 175 to 200 UK sites.

Second biggest growth player in terms of number of new sites over the past three years is franchised noodle bar brand Chozen Noodle, which now has 15 outlets, up from four in 2013. The company has successfully targeted motorway service areas, railway stations and shopping centre locations.

Third in terms of new site openings is dessert café operator Creams Café, which has grown from three outlets in 2012 to 17 in 2015 mostly through franchising. The company aims to have 40 sites by the end of this year and is targeting Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and London.




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