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Pret a Manger profits boosted by regional coffee sales and new stores

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Pret a Manger's UK sales growth outside London outstripped growth in the capital. Photo: PA
Pret a Manger's UK sales growth outside London outstripped growth in the capital. Photo: PA

Pret a Manger announced on Monday that it returned to profitability as a boost in regional sales and new store openings lifted revenues after suffering hefty losses following pandemic lockdowns.

The sandwich and coffee chain reported first-half revenue for 2022 reached £357.8m ($434m), up 230% compared to £155.4m last year, and up from £223.4m in 2020 when the pandemic first hit.

It comes as Pret filed its 2021 accounts to Companies House, with revenue for that year increasing 17%, from £392.9m to £461.5m. Its operating loss for the year was £225.9m, down from £343m in 2020.

Boosted by the accelerating rate of sales growth across the country, Pret said it has been generating cash since March and went operationally cash flow positive from May as COVID restrictions lifted and workers returned to offices.

UK sales growth outside London outstripped growth in the capital, both on a like-for-like basis and in total revenue, reflecting the sustained growth of the company's regional shop estate.

Read more: Inflation: More than six in 10 UK businesses set to raise prices

According to the firm, the recovery was helped by its expansion outside London, where trade was hit particularly hard by the switch to remote working, with sales growth faster outside the capital.

Pret opened new shops in Brentwood, Harrogate, Leeds and York. Currently, 66% of its store portfolio is outside of London's Square Mile, with 36% located in regional cities and towns, it said.

In September 2020, the company launched Britain's first coffee subscription service, allowing customers to get up to five hot drinks every day for £25 a month. In 2021, the subscription was used more than 667,000 times per week, which has risen to a million redemptions a week.

It said the subscription had been a "key driver" of loyalty, with subscribers typically spending four times as much with Pret than non-subscribers. The service has also been launched in France and the US.

The results come ahead of the launch of its new affordable menu range later this week in response to the cost of living crisis.

Pret opened in London in 1986 and operates 442 shops in the UK and 558 stores internationally.

The company has also started ramping up its overseas expansion, recently announcing four new franchise partnerships, including a deal in June with Reliance Brands to build the chain across India.

That is in addition to new tie-ups in Canada, Ireland, Spain and Portugal as part of a goal to double the size of its business within five years and expand into five new markets by the end of 2023.

Pret said the recent franchise deals means it expects to meet its international growth goal a year ahead of schedule.

Read more: Lavazza in talks with UK retailers as coffee bean prices soar

Pano Christou, Pret's chief executive, said: "Two years ago, we said we wanted to bring Pret to more people. During the first half of this year, we not only delivered on that pledge, but we also grew fastest in some of the places where we only had a handful of Pret shops before. That's a fantastic result and shows how big the appetite is for freshly prepared food and organic coffee in towns and cities across the UK.

"The opportunity now is for us to take that growth and apply it internationally. Since the start of this year, we've signed four new partnership agreements to take Pret into new global markets. The second half of this year will be about taking that a step further, while continuing to run our business with the fast, friendly, joyful service which has made Pret what it is today."

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