Exclusive – Pret to increase coffee subscription to £25 a month to cover increased costs: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed business, is to increase its coffee subscription service from £20 to £25 next month, as it looks to combat increased costs, Propel has learned. The business launched the service in September 2020, which allows customers to enjoy up to five beverages per day at a cost of £20 per month, and is understood to be now used more than a million times each week in the UK. The increase of £5, which will come into effect on 16 March for existing subscribers, and from tomorrow (Thursday, 3 February) for new subscribers, will cover the cost of VAT returning to 20%, pay increases for the brand’s teams, and offset inflation. On the latter, chief executive Pano Christou recently said the price Pret has paid for Arabica coffee beans since 2020 has risen by 40%. Last month, Pret announced it would be investing more than £9.2m in staff pay, its biggest pay and benefits increase in its 36-year history. In a letter to customers on the increase, the business states: “Since we launched the subscription, prices for ingredients such as coffee beans and milk have gone up, the government will be increasing VAT to 20%, and we have chosen to invest in our amazing Pret team, which has carried us through the pandemic. So, when the additional £5 comes into effect, around £2 will cover VAT, £1.50 will go towards Pret team pay increases, and another £1.50 will go towards offsetting inflation. We believe The Pret coffee subscription continues to offer great value – it compares with around two of our organic lattes each week. Combined with the rewards you can earn through our loyalty programme Pret Perks, the subscription is our unique way of offering the best value for organic, barista-made coffees, hot drinks and smoothies to enjoy with our freshly made food.” Earlier today (Wednesday, 2 February), Bloomberg’s latest Pret Index revealed sales at the brand grew faster in London’s financial districts last week than in any other UK area as banks call staff back into the office. It showed transactions are now 68% of pre-pandemic levels in the cluster that includes the City and Canary Wharf, the highest figure in almost two months. That builds on the momentum from a week earlier, when sales rose after the UK government dropped its work-from-home guidance, prompting banks including Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup to encourage workers to make arrangements to return to their desks. In the coming weeks “you could see those levels of 90% plus Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday” in London’s financial districts, Christou said. “I think on Monday and Friday, those levels will be lower,” he said, reflecting a trend Pret saw early in its sales data that pointed to bankers choosing to stay home on days that straddle the weekend. In another sign that life in the UK capital is inching back to normality, sales in the West End entertainment and shopping district shot up and are now almost back to pre-covid-19 levels. However, Pret’s recovery is being dented by inflationary pressures that could hamper its profitability, Christou said.
Pret features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers and now features more than 500 companies. Pret has turned over an average of £586m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. The latest edition also features group editor Mark Wingett’s next quarterly pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. His latest pick of companies are Brakspear, Simmons Bars, Hub Box, Park Holidays, Vaulkhard Leisure, Hostmore, QFM Group, Caprice Holdings and Ivy Collection. The picks are accompanied by a 2,100-word report. The Blue Book also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email email@example.com to sign up
Merlin Entertainments to take over operations at Cadbury World: Merlin Entertainments has acquired the operations and brand licenses for Cadbury World in the UK under a new partnership with Mondelēz International. As part of the agreement, Merlin Entertainments will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Cadbury World site in the West Midlands, its employees, and all operational decisions, as well as holding brand usage rights for Cadbury World in the UK. The partnership forms part of Merlin’s broader strategy to engage in intellectual property partnerships with some of the world’s most popular brands across its global estate, with existing agreements including Lego, Bear Grylls, Marvel and BBC. Opened in 1990, Cadbury World attracts 600,000-plus people a year to learn about the heritage of the chocolate brand. Mark Fisher, chief development officer at Merlin Entertainments, said: “We are delighted Cadbury World is joining the already strong global network of Merlin attractions. We have long admired Cadbury as the nation’s favourite chocolate brand and have already successfully worked together across a range of experiential activities and retail spaces in our UK theme parks. We are now excited to continue the relationship and bring to life the sights, smells and fun experiences that chocolate lovers have come to know and love, but just with the additional helping of some Merlin magic!” Louise Stigant, UK managing director at Mondelēz International, added: “We want to build on the strong foundations we’ve laid so that people can continue to enjoy Cadbury World for generations to come. As we approach Cadbury’s 200th anniversary, by working with Merlin Entertainments, we will be able to bring the history and heritage of the Cadbury brand and the joy of chocolate to more and more people.”