Pret A Manger is planning to continue expanding at home and abroad after reporting record profits in 2016 on the back of a wave of new healthy-eating fads.
Combining its American, Hong Kong, and European divisions, the company reported a 39pc increase in pre-tax profits to £75.5m as it latched onto developing consumer trends including dairy-free food. Total sales were reported to be £776m.
The chain opened 31 new stores in the United Kingdom including a vegetarian only shop in London, taking the total number of stores nationwide to 329. It stated that coconut was its most popular new ingredient, with the coconut porridge selling particularly well.
The trend for healthy eating continues to develop rapidly in the United Kingdom with Kantar Worldpanel, a research firm, reporting that avocado, flatbread, spinach and halloumi were among the fastest-selling last year.
The company revealed that hot breakfast pots have been significantly popular as had its refreshed soup range, all of which were dairy and gluten free and are under 250 calories. The chain has been in the spotlight in previous months after reports surfaced that it was preparing a partial listing on the New York Stock Exchange, with private equity owners Bridgepoint noted to want to continue to hold a stake in the company rather than completely cashing out. In 2008, The European private equity firm bought a majority stake in the company for £500m.
More recently, it emerged that the owner of Jollibee, a fast food restaurant that is popularly known as the “McDonald’s of the Philippines”, was interested in seeking to purchase Pret, although the chain was said to be focused on its possible listing Stateside. Pret has 110 branches overseas, and expansion in the US has been particularly successful.
It has also received praise for its support for the homeless. The company donates all the food that it fails to sell everyday to people on the streets.
Elsewhere, the Simon Hargraves Apprenticeship Scheme of the company allowed 53 homeless people to look for full-time employment in cities including Manchester, London, Bristol and Leeds, while seven entered its “Rising Star” programme, which offers customised courses. It said that it seeks to offer more apprenticeships in 2017.
Pret’s chairman, William Jackson, also announced that 2017 would see increased investment in new shops in the United Kingdom as well as refurbishment of its existing estate.