Pret A Manger’s chief equipment buyer insists the growth of the company’s store network over recent years means that any decisions taken on new kit must be done with consistency and simplicity in mind.
Dirk Wissmann, senior equipment manager at the acclaimed UK sandwich chain, says Pret has some clear goals when it comes to foodservice equipment.
“The ideal equipment is something which is easy to clean, meets food safety requirements and is simple to operate — we obviously don’t want to introduce something to our stores which makes the operation more complex,” he explains.
Pret has standardised its back- and front-of-house operations with equipment that has proved its value over the years, but with so many stores to its name any new additions to the kitchen estate have to be carefully project-managed.
The introduction of a new smoothie menu last year saw a major roll-out of Hamilton Beach blenders, which meant it had to amend counters and implement the new appliances into stores.
Wissmann and his team have also worked hard to create perfectly-customised workstations for its hot food chefs, arming them with all the tools they need to carry out their work. Its next priority is to look at new hot holding solutions to enhance the operation.
While the adoption of new kit is always an exhilarating time for any equipment manager, it is important to make sure that mission-critical equipment is running to its optimal levels. In Pret’s case, cold storage is key. “We are using quite a lot of refrigeration because it is important to keep our stuff fresh,” says Wissmann. “We pretty much get daily deliveries, so we need a decent-sized walk-in fridge and sufficient upright fridges.”
Last year Pret made a £76m profit on sales of nearly £600m, while its store count surpassed 300 in the UK and 400 worldwide.