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Thu 5th Jan 2023 - Update: Pret introduces new value range, Greggs trading
Pret introduces new value range, launches first meal deal: Pret A Manger is to launch a new value range of sandwiches and its first meal deal promotion, which it said will help customers spend less as the cost-of-living crisis continues. This month, customers will be able to buy any full-size baguette with Pret’s crisps or popcorn for just £5. The deal is available now and runs throughout January. In addition to the baguette offer, Pret is expanding its value range – Made Simple – to include eight freshly made sandwiches starting from just £2.99 in the vast majority of shops. The range follows an initial trial of a smaller value range of sandwiches last year. The company said: “Following a successful trial last summer, the expanded range includes customer favourite BLT returning alongside new additions like the Chicken Salad, Ham Salad, and Humous and Veg sandwiches which will be added to Pret’s menu.” Alongside, the expanded Made Simple range, Pret’s new 2023 menu includes four new vegan products for Veganuary. For the first time ever, Pret will be using a vegan ‘cheeze’ from VioLife in two of its products: Spicy No’Duja Toasted Focaccia, – a rosemary focaccia filled with red pesto, mushroom No’duja, smoky vegan cheeze, red pepper and fresh basil leaves, and the Plant Ploughman’s Baguette – Smoky vegan cheeze, with spicy chipotle ketchup and pret pickle chutney, which is then finished with roasted tomatoes, sliced red onion and salad mix. Pret’s new plastic-free gum supplied by Milliways will also be available at shops from 10 January, when the 2023 menu launches. Guy Meakin, interim UK managing director at Pret, said: “At Pret, we’re committed to continuously innovating our menu in response to customers’ needs. With the cost-of-living crisis impacting people across the country, this year we wanted to introduce new products and deals that give customers more choice and value for money, whilst ensuring our fresh food and delicious tasting products are not compromised. Our new baguette deal and expanded Made Simple range are perfect examples of that. Coupled with our award-winning coffee subscription, an industry-leading initiative for saving money, customers will be able to enjoy a variety of freshly made food and organic coffee options at different price points to suit their budget.” The new menu is available for customers from 10th January while the baguette deal is available throughout January at participating Pret shops. 

Coming this month for Premium subscribers – the Who’s Who of UK Food & Beverage: Propel is to add a fifth major database to its Premium service this month. The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be the first time full profiles of the UK’s top 700 food and beverage operators will be available in one place. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database has taken 16 months to pull together, merging Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This invaluable guide simply hasn’t existed in the UK before. It’s a reference guide to the 700 largest operators in the UK. It will also be updated every month because on average 50 or so companies update each month of the year. So if you want to find out the most up-to-date information on a company, this is the database you will need on your desk at all times. It is also a wonderful complement to our Blue Book of Turnover and Profitability which is also updated each month and ranks these companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion. Together they provide the UK’s most detailed and insightful profile of absolute and relative performance.” Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. 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 to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Greggs Q4 lfls up 18.2%, early-evening is now the fastest growing daypart: Food-to-go operator Greggs has reported that despite the impact of adverse weather and strikes at the end of 2022, fourth quarter like-for-like sales in its company-managed shops grew by 18.2%. The company said: “This reflected a favourable trading pattern leading into the Christmas period and softer trading conditions in the comparable quarter of 2021 as a result of disruption caused by the omicron variant of coronavirus. Seasonal lines were in high demand in the fourth quarter, including our iconic Festive Bake, which featured alongside its vegan-friendly alternative, our shop-baked Sweet Mince Pies and our festive hot drinks including the Salted Caramel Latte. Plant-based foods are contributing more significantly to our range over time and the introduction of new hot options such as the Vegan Festive Baguette is testament to this trend.” For its financial year 2022, total sales were up 23.0% to £1,513m (2021: £1,230m), while like-for-like sales in company-managed shops were 17.8% higher than sales seen in 2021. The company opened 186 new shops in the year, with 39 closures, giving it 2,328 shops trading as at 31 December 2022. The business said that it saw strong growth in digital and early evening sales. It said: “At a time when consumers are increasingly focused on value, we have seen strong growth in use of the Greggs App. This rewards customers for their loyalty with free products across our entire range, as well as giving access to features such as Click + Collect, nutritional information and delivery options. 500 of our shops are now open until 8pm and early-evening is now the fastest growing daypart as we extend availability to both walk-in and delivery customers.” Greggs said it ended 2022 with a cash position of £191m, partly reflecting phasing of capex investment. It said: “This will support our plans to invest further in growing both our shop estate and supply chain capacity in the year ahead. The pipeline of new shop opportunities remains strong and we expect to open around 150 net new stores again in 2023.” Roisin Currie, chief executive, said: “I am proud of the progress Greggs made during 2022 in challenging conditions. Our teams did a magnificent job serving customers and managing the growing demand for Greggs products as we expand our shop estate and offer greater availability through digital channels and longer trading hours, whilst continuing to extend our menu to offer more choice. We enter 2023 in a strong financial position that will enable us to invest in shops and supply chain capacity to bring Greggs to even more customers across the UK. While market conditions in 2023 will remain challenging, our value-for-money offer of freshly-prepared food and drink is highly relevant as consumers look to manage their budgets without compromising on quality and taste.”

Pubs and restaurants forced to cut back opening hours: Pubs and restaurants are cutting their opening hours as staff shortages, high energy costs and wider inflationary pressures take their toll. Three quarters of hospitality businesses are operating below capacity, according to a survey published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q4 2022 shows key economic indicators have stabilised at concerningly low levels, following significant declines in Q3. The survey of over 5,600 firms – 92% of whom are SMEs – reveals business confidence, conditions and sales have stabilised at low levels, while inflation remains the top external factor of concern. The research took place between November 7 and November 30, across the period the government’s Autumn Statement was announced. It found that activity in the retail and hospitality sectors remains particularly weak. Both sectors are firmly in ‘negative territory’, with more firms reporting a decrease in sales than an increase over the past three months. David Bharier, head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “These results provide further confirmation that business conditions deteriorated significantly in the second half of 2022. The situation remains critical for the majority of SMEs who find themselves cut adrift by monumental inflationary pressures, often driving triple-digit percentage cost increases, particularly on energy. Business confidence remains worryingly low, with only a third of firms reporting improvements to sales, and less than a quarter reporting increased investment. The widespread economic damage caused by covid shutdowns has been compounded by subsequent inflation, global trade crises, and new trade barriers with the EU. For many SMEs, the cost of doing business is now simply too high. While the change in administrations from Truss to Sunak may have stabilised markets, the Autumn Statement on 17 November appears to have had no impact on business confidence. Indeed, while inflation is still by far and away the top concern for businesses, taxation has now become far more of an issue for SMEs.”

Plans for £2.5bn London Resort theme park ‘significantly’ scaled-back: Proposals for a multi-billion-pound theme park in Kent have been “significantly” scaled-back as part of a “reset” to address environmental concerns. It’s been confirmed the footprint of the sprawling £2.5bn leisure and entertainment attraction, dubbed the London Resort, has been redrawn on the Swanscombe Peninsula. Kent Online reports that bosses say they will be changing the project “significantly” which will no longer spread across the whole of the 535-acre wildlife site, near Dartford. Instead, it will only factor in parts of it, taking into account Natural England’s decision earlier this year to designate the land as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), they said. It forms part of what the developers claim to be a “comprehensive reset and refocus” which will also see its board “further reshuffled”. Among the high-profile departures is chief executive PY Gerbeau who masterminded the revival of the much-maligned Millennium Dome in London. The French entrepreneur was brought on board in 2019 to reverse the fortunes of the “UK’s answer to Disneyland” after a rollercoaster of setbacks and a decade of delays. But Gerbeau has now decided to step down from his role with London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) following the withdrawal of the planning application earlier this year. The bid was scrapped after the government’s classification of Tilbury as a Freeport meant revisions were needed to its transport strategy. A decision to grant the peninsula SSSI status also posed serious eco-problems despite the Resort’s commitment to shell out £150m on environmental improvements. Gerbeau had vowed it would still be built despite the “naysayers and doom-mongers”. He also labelled the decision to grant protected status “erroneous”, adding it was not the best means of achieving a “balance between the economic and environmental objectives for the site”. The retail and leisure business guru will continue to advise LRCH while he pursues other opportunities, it has been confirmed. Bosses at LRCH say the project will now “move forward at pace” with fresh plans submitted for review to the Planning Inspectorate next year.

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