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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 16th May 2019 - Pret talks to acquire rival EAT at advanced stage
Pret talks to acquire rival EAT at advanced stage: Pret, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, is in talks to acquire circa 90-strong rival EAT, which was placed on the market earlier this year. Both parties told Propel they wouldn’t comment on speculation but it is thought despite fears on cannabilisation between both brands’ estates – 75% of EAT’s estate is in London with many close to an existing Pret – talks are at an advanced stage. Propel understands one rational behind the proposed deal, apart from taking out one of its main competitors, is Pret could use some of the EAT estate to ramp up the expansion of its fledgling Veggie Pret format, which has so far been rolled out to four sites and proven extremely popular with consumers. EAT’s backers Horizon Capital, formerly Lyceum, appointed Spayne Lindsay earlier this year to advise on a sale of the business, which has been led by Andrew Walker, former Pret UK managing director, for the past three years. Walker has turned the business around in that time, overseeing more than 12 months of consecutive like-for-like growth. Earlier this year, the company said in its current financial year it was on track to grow Ebitda by almost 50% and close to break-even at post-tax net profit level. Last year, the business, which was founded in 1996 by former hedge fund manager Niall MacArthur and his wife Faith, underwent a restructure, which saw circa 10% of its estate disposed of. Earlier this year, EAT also completed its trial of a “SmartEAT” store format with hot self-service capability to “improve speed of service and delivery”. The like-for-like performance of SmartEAT stores has consistently been circa 10% higher than other stores since they were upgraded. It also highlighted its foodservice offer had been enhanced following the arrival of MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Arnaud Kaziewicz as executive chef. The company has revised its store portfolio to focus on strategically selected, high-footfall locations, with stores opening in Madrid airport, Gare du Nord and Liverpool Street station. The international expansion has continued in 2019, with openings in Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante and Bahrain airports, and Marne-la-Vallée and Gare de Nantes stations in France.

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