Pret sales jump as it focuses on towns and suburbs

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A Pret A Manger workerImage source, Getty Images

Pret A Manger says it has returned to profit after a tough few years, as it shifts its focus away from London towards regional towns and suburbs.

Sales at the sandwich chain rose to £357.8m in the six months to June - up 230% on last year when lockdowns hammered the business.

About a third of Pret's UK shops are now outside London, including new sites in Brentwood, Harrogate and York.

These stores account for most of its recent growth, the chain said.

Like all hospitality businesses, Pret had to close its sites for long spells during the pandemic and move to a takeaway model.

But the chain said it returned to profit in March, after posting bruising losses of £225.9m and £343m in 2021 and 2020.

Since September last year the firm has opened 27 new shops across the country, mainly outside of central London, taking its UK portfolio to 442 shops.

The chain - which was founded in London in 1986 - said 36% of its UK shops were now located in regional cities and towns.

Pret also said it had expanded overseas, where it has 558 shops, striking new franchise deals in India, Spain, Portugal and Canada.

The chain has tried to innovate since the pandemic hit, launching a drinks subscription service which initially sparked thousands of customer complaints over the limited availability of some beverages.

But Pret said the service - which allows customers to have up to five hot drinks every day - was now used over a million times a week - up from 667,000 times a week last year.

The service has boosted customer loyalty, it added, with subscribers "typically spending four times as much with Pret than non-subscribers".

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