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Sun 15th Aug 2021 - Exclusive: Pret signs up The Chesterford Group as first franchisee in regional push
Exclusive – Pret signs up The Chesterford Group as first franchisee in regional push: The Chesterford Group (TCG), which operates circa 40 sites under brands including Churchill’s and Bankers Fish & Chips, has signed up to become one of the first regional UK franchisees for Pret A Manger, Propel has learned. It is thought the James Lipscombe-led business will be one of a handful of franchisees Pret is looking to sign up as it explores further regional growth. It is believed both companies are happy with the digital and cultural fit of their businesses, with Pret keen to tap into TCG’s expertise in operating and opening sites on regional high streets. Pret is understood to be in the early stages of securing four to five franchisees to oversee territories in the UK, with each set to open 15 to 20 sites under the brand over the next two to three years. It is thought the company will look open circa 100 franchise sites in that time, creating around 2,000 jobs. It will also look to continue to add a similar of equity sites to its existing circa 390-strong estate over the same period. Clare Clough, UK managing director at Pret UK & Ireland, told Propel the concerted move into the franchise sector would accelerate its growth in becoming a national player, allowing the brand to gain a greater foothold in high streets across the UK. She said: “We are in the early stages of this process, but we believe this move will be complimentary to our plans to continue to grow our equity estate. It will allow us to work with like-minded operators, and to tap into their expertise in their respective territories. We are already seeing strong performances outside London, in places such as Yorkshire and in regional towns such as Orpington in Greater London, and feel we can build on that and accelerate the growth of the business.” In April, Propel revealed the JAB Holdings-owned Pret had appointed Jane ColemanI, formerly of Starbucks and the Coffeesmiths Collective, as head of franchising UK & Ireland, as the brand looked to understand the potential for growth in this area. Coleman has led its work on exploring franchise opportunities for Pret in the UK and Ireland. Earlier this year, Clough intimated the company could be set to introduce a franchise model as it looked to back up its grocery range deal with Tesco by opening sites in more suburban areas. Earlier this week, Pret opened its second site with Tesco, in the Tesco Extra at Serpentine Green, Peterborough. It follows the opening of a site in the retailer’s supermarket in Kensington, west London, in June. TCG operates a fast-growing chain of multi-branded fish and chip takeaways, restaurants and virtual kitchen brands throughout the south, south east and the south west. The company is based in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire and currently operates 38 fish and chip shops and a host of virtual kitchen brands, serving more than three million meals a year.
Pret features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which was updated on Friday (13 August) for Premium subscribers. Pret turned over £708.4m in its most recent financial year, making it the tenth highest of the 351 companies featured. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks the companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors and now includes Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s “Propel Pick” – his pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to sign up.

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