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Retailer Spotlight - Coconuts drive a record year for Pret a Manger


Posted At: 17 May 2017 15:58 PM
Related Categories: Retailers


Pret A Manger could be offering more free coffee to customers as sales reached another record year in 2016. The cafe chain reported sales rising 15% to £776.2m in the year to the end of December, with like-for-like sales rising 4.8%. It opened 50 new shops, 31 of which were in the UK, bringing its total up to 444.

It’s in the mix
A commitment to innovation in both product and formats has been credited for this strong performance. Pret says its new soup ranges led to a 16% increase in soup sales.

Its move into even healthier ingredients is also proving popular, with customers responding well to its two Veggie Pret stores in London. Sales of dairy-free coconut milk-based products mean that Coconut Porridge accounts for one in five porridge sales in the UK.

A shift in patterns
The killer statistic is here: Pret sold 16m croissants last year, making it its most popular product worldwide. Importantly, almost 60% of sales now fall outside lunchtime, as eating habits shift to healthy snacking. With 18% of sales coming from products launched in the last year, the company cited its ability to adapt to changing consumer tastes as helping to support performance.

Pret also donated three million food items to charity during 2016, while the Pret Foundation Trust raised £1.8m. Pret attributed effective marketing for its brand’s success, in particular its "random acts of kindness" scheme where employees give away free cups of coffee – 1.7m in total. Investing in in-store experience and social media to speak regularly with customers has proved a winning marketing strategy for the brand.

International Expansion
Pret has been at the centre of the risks to its business post-Brexit if EU immigration is curbed, as just one in 50 of the applicants for jobs at the firm is British. The company has looked at proactive recruitment efforts, particularly on social media, to attract more UK job applicants.

Despite this, international expansion remains robust. US sales rose 14% per cent, rising above $200m (£155m) for the first time, with nine stores opening in 2016, with five in France, three in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai and one in Dubai. Its increased focus on transport hubs is also working with 16% of sales now coming from airport and train station outlets.

CEO Clive Schlee said the company will continue to focus on the menu innovation, service and food quality mix that make up its “freshly made food and fast proposition”. “We look forward to opening our 500th Pret shop in the next 12 months and furthering our measured expansion in both existing and new markets. We will of course continue to focus on the essentials: menu innovation and the quality of our ingredients, opening new shops in top class locations around the world, and above all, recruiting and engaging our wonderful teams.”

See you in the coconut porridge queue.

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