Pret A Manger says it will start selling a range of coffee products in supermarkets in the next few weeks. Its chief executive has hinted at a new operating model, which could have a massive impact on the retail property sector if Pret’s network of physical outlets is downsized after the coronavirus crisis.
Pret is famously ubiquitous across UK high streets, shopping centres and railways stations, having grown rapidly in the last 10 years.
However there are now major question marks about how consumers will feel interacting in busy stores and coffee shops after months of self isolation and fears about the spread of virus.
Ground coffee and whole beans on the shelves
The sandwich and coffee chain had planned to launch a coffee range in supermarkets by the end of the year, however it is speeding up its plans as a result of Covid-19, looking for ways to reach its customers while its vast chain of coffee shops remains closed.
Chief executive Pano Christou says discussions about introducing a range of whole and ground coffee beans are under way, with products likely to be available by the end of April. “My sense is that Pret might be a very different operator model after this – if coronavirus persists,” says Christou in a report in the Financial Times.
As Pret offers a wide range of sandwiches, crisps, canned and bottled soft drinks, and soups, there is ample scope for the brand to expand into other product categories with supermarket partners in the future.
Covid-19 impact on Pret business
Founded in 1983, London-based Pret operates across nine countries and has 550 branches.
Following the Coronavirus outbreak and a rapid decline in sales, Pret cut staff working hours and pay by a quarter across its branches. From 21st March the company closed all UK stores temporarily.
Pret supporting NHS staff
More recently, Pret has reopened 10 shops close to hospitals “so we can help frontline healthcare workers get more access to freshly prepared food” says the company website.
“Our 50% NHS discount is back, and we’re making 7,000 extra meals a week to donate to our homeless charity partners, so we can continue to support the most vulnerable.
“Our priority is always to protect our teams and customers as best we can, and we’ve put in place a number of new social distancing measures to align with the government’s guidance.”
Image: Pret A Manger