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Thu 25th Nov 2021 - Coffee subscriptions ‘brought Pret back from the dead’, central London to be included in expansion plans
Coffee subscriptions ‘brought Pret back from the dead’, central London to be included in expansion plans: Pret A Manger was “brought back from the dead” by its coffee subscription service, according to its UK trading director Guy Meakin. Launched in September 2020, the scheme allows customers to enjoy five barista-made drinks a day for £20 a month – and has recently expanded to the US and France. It was one of many projects Pret launched to combat the effects of covid lockdowns – including Pret at Home, delivery, click and collect, roadside partnerships and Pret Express – but is the one Meakin is most proud of. “We’ve made many changes and decisions over the last year or so, but our coffee subscription has been a great success, and we’re proud of what we achieved there,” Meakin told the Propel Multi-Club Conference this month. “Back in April (2020) we had no income at all – zero income – no delivery business, no consumer packaged goods, no kitchens open, nothing at all. We were burning cash and had been for many months. We were almost dead and reacted with an amazing initiative that really brought us back, and really fought for the share we used to have and continue to aspire to have. It’s an amazing tool for that. It’s also a really great way to broaden our customer base, build our market share and drive frequency – and we’ve certainly seen those things happen. Building that data relationship with our customers really enhances the relationship they have with us, so we’re really keen to get on that journey, which Pret has probably been slow to.” Earlier this year, Pret set out its vision to double the size of its business over the next five years, part of which involves opening 200 new UK stores – including franchises – largely in regional and suburban areas. However, Meakin insists central London, which already houses more than half of Pret’s UK estate, won’t be left behind in its expansion plans. “We feel like we gave a great opportunity to build out from our London base, there’s many regions and towns we want to bring Pret to,” he said. “But we’ve got many opportunities in London too – not just Zones 2, 3 and 4, but inner London as well. We’ve got 231 shops in London, but I live in Zone 3 and don’t have a Pret near me, and I can’t get a delivery unless I drive to a local car park.” Meakin added that, in a challenging recruitment climate, Pret is “advertising more than we ever have done for team members”. He added: “We never used to spend much money on advertising, never mind on recruitment. We’re now spending much more on that and embracing things like TikTok as a route to market.”
Meakin is one of 24 operators in the Propel Premium Advent Calendar, giving subscribers access to a great video each day in December from our autumn conference series. Each day in December in the run-up to Christmas, Premium subscribers will be sent a video featuring some of the sector’s leading operators, who will share insights, advice and expertise. Meakin features on Thursday, 23 December. 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. To subscribe, email

Wendy’s to up UK expansion plans, after initial sites exceed £40,000 sales a week: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, is to up its expansion plans in the UK, after a strong start to its return here. The FT reported the brand has been buoyed by sales at the sites it has opened since it relaunched in Reading in June. Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s chief development officer, said revenues at the restaurants it had opened, which include locations in Croydon and Stratford, were “far more” than the chain had expected at £40,000 a week. As a result, Wendy’s will up the pace of its UK growth, Pringle said, with a target of opening 50 locations next year on top of the five restaurants and five delivery-only or “dark” kitchens that it has launched this year. The new openings are an increase from a previous target of ten new outlets in 2022. The sites will be a mixture of dark kitchens, dine-in restaurants and drive-thrus. On top of the franchise deal with Reef, which operates dark kitchens on parking lots, it has signed two franchise partners to open Wendy’s restaurants in Yorkshire and the East Midlands. Wendy’s plans to open stores in the Republic of Ireland in 2023 and is seeking franchise partners to launch elsewhere in Europe. Wendy’s opened its 1,000th site internationally, and fourth on its return to the UK, in Croydon, last week. It follows openings in Reading, London Stratford and Oxford. The company, which earlier this month secured its first UK drive-thru site in Colchester, is set to open in Romford before the end of the year, and has also secured a site in Brighton’s Western Road. It is thought the business is in talks to open further restaurants in Camden, Ilford and Maidstone, with Savills aiding the brand’s UK expansion. Earlier this month, Todd Penegor, chief executive of Wendy’s, said the business was seeing “extremely strong sales across our UK restaurants”. The business has also opened five dark kitchens in the UK since June under its fledgling franchise agreement with Reef. 

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