Pret A Manger is giving greater consideration to the flexibility of the catering equipment it specifies as its business adapts and evolves to meet the changing food habits of consumers.
58% of Pret’s sales are now outside of the core lunchtime period, for example – a trend that is driven heavily by increased demand for breakfast-on-the-go. Such patterns create challenges in terms of menu and service changeovers and ultimately impact the type of equipment it selects.
Dirk Wissmann, senior equipment manager for Pret, said that when he began working at the chain, branches would open at 7am, shut at 3pm and close for weekends. Now it’s a full-time operation.
“The majority of Pret shops are open seven days a week from 6.30am and don’t close until 11pm. Trading patterns have changed even through the peak is still at lunchtime. We treat all the day-parts in different ways, which means the equipment needs to be flexible. The unit displaying croissants in the morning will need to hold cakes in the afternoon, so it needs to be adaptable.”
He added: “We recently trialled our evening concept where we change the kitchen to do hot food served to the table, and we try these things out without endangering our core operation, which is making sandwiches for our lunchtime business. We try to make sure the kitchen layout is as flexible as we can to allow these different day-parts.”
Pret works with around five to 10 core suppliers and Mr Wissmann said it had built up a strong level of trust with these companies, particularly as it works closely with them on product development and customisation. “We are usually very loyal [to suppliers] until something goes wrong – and that is usually bad service.”
The full interview with Dirk Wissmann can be found in the July issue of Foodservice Equipment Journal, available as a free digital edition HERE.