Pret a Manger
|Industry||Fast casual restaurant|
Number of locations
|United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, China, France, Germany, Denmark, Dubai, The Netherlands and Singapore|
|Clive Schlee (CEO)|
|Products||Sandwiches, salads, sushi, soups, coffees and snacks|
|Revenue||£776 Million (2016) |
|£93 Million (2016) |
|Owner||Bridgepoint Capital 70% stake; management and staff 30% stake|
Pret a Manger /
First Pret a Manger restaurant
Jeffrey Hyman founded the first Pret a Manger in London on 21 October 1983. The first Pret A Manger shop opened in Hampstead, London, in 1984. The name Prêt à Manger (French pronunciation: [pʁɛt‿a mɑ̃ʒe], ready to eat) was based on prêt-à-porter, French for "ready-to-wear" clothing.
This original Pret A Manger was located opposite Hampstead Underground station, had its own kitchen, and offered ready-to-eat freshly made natural food, filled baguettes, Croque-monsieur and other ready-to-go convenience foods.
Opening in June 1983, the company traded at 58 Hampstead High Street for eighteen months at which time takings had dropped to below break-even point and the company went into liquidation. The name and visual branding was purchased from the company liquidator David Rubin by college friends Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe.
Pret A Manger, 1986 onwards
Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham started a new operation, but using the Pret A Manger name purchased from the former company's liquidator. They opened their first shop of the new Pret A Manger in July 1986, located at 75b Victoria Street in London. Beecham and Metcalfe had met while studying at University.
The pair pioneered the chain's menu of handmade natural food, freshly prepared in shop kitchens, and they are still significant shareholders in the company. The iconic logo was created by Adrian Kilby, founder of The Formation Creative Consultants Europe Ltd in the 1990s.
In 1995 Metcalfe and Beecham set up the Pret Foundation Trust with the aim to alleviate poverty in the UK. The Trust receives donations from the sale of products and collection boxes in shops. The donations fund Pret's "Charity Run" vans which deliver unsold food to homeless shelters at the end of each day.
In 2016, its group sales were £776 million.
Store to open in Qatar 2018.
The company emphasises the use of natural ingredients and advertises that its sandwiches are made on the day of purchase in a kitchen at each location (with the stated exception of a few small outlets). Food left unsold at the end of the day is collected by charities. Sandwiches are packaged in paperboard rather than sealed plastic. 67% of its trade is in London, where around three-quarters of its stores are located. Locations include:
- United Kingdom
- Dubai: 1 outlet, as of March 2016. The first outlet in Dubai opened on 16 March 2016 at Dubai International Airport's new Concourse D.
- United States
- Hong Kong
- Denmark: 3 at Copenhagen Airport in Terminal 3, Terminal 2 and Gate A 
- Germany: 1 at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, as of October 2018
In 1998, the company employed 1,400 people, of whom 19% were from the UK and 60% were from other European Union countries, mainly in Eastern Europe. Pret A Manger employs one in every 14 applicants. Applicants go on a one-day experience day at a shop and their success is determined by the other staff members, who vote the applicant in or not. Many managers and senior executives have come from within the company.
The organisational structure of Pret A Manger is divided between its stores and the main offices. The London head office is the hub for the UK stores, while the office in New York City is the hub for the American stores. Each store contains levels of positions that range from Team Member to the General Manager of the store. Above the in-store manager is the Operations Manager who is in charge of a group of roughly 10 stores, and above that are more senior management positions based out of the offices that are tasked with coordinating an entire region and maintaining communication with the company’s CEO in London. All the office employees are paired with a "buddy shop" where they work at least two days a year.
While the uppermost levels of management are located in the offices, not all the office jobs are above the store jobs in the organisational structure. Orders do not strictly flow from the head offices in a top-down manner; instead, the channel of communication between the executives and the stores is open in both directions.
Pret a Manger promotes an internal culture as described in a leaflet entitled "Pret Behaviours". The Behaviours break down traits into three categories: passion, clear talking and team working – and identify specific behaviours as "Don’t want to see", "Want to see", and "Pret perfect!" The number of Behaviours Pret hopes an employee exhibits increases with one's rank within the company: Team Members should practise around six Behaviours, Managers ten, and the company’s executives all of them.
Affective labour issues
Pret A Manger has been cited as being particularly vigorous in extracting affective labour from its employees. Affective labour (or emotional labour) is work which involves manipulating a person's emotional state.
Pret A Manger demands go beyond traditional requirements for fast-food workers (such as courtesy, efficiency, and reliability) to such tasks as having "presence", demonstrating a quirky sense of fun, and exhibiting behaviour consistent with being inwardly happy with oneself. Pret A Manger uses mystery shoppers to ensure that employees deploy markers of a positive emotional state. Employees who exhibit markers of latent sadness face consequences such as not having a bonus. This has led to some criticism of the company for over-reaching while drawing praise from right-wing commentators and other business owners for its business practices.
Pret A Manger Staff Union
In response to labour issues within the company, the Pret A Manger Staff Union was established in 2012 as an independent union with its principal demand being made around calls for a Living Wage. Andrej Stopa, the founder of the union, was later sacked from his Pret branch.
Failure to list ingredients
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Pret a Manger does not consistently list all ingredients on packages.
In late 2015, a 17-year-old girl collapsed and needed emergency medical care after a “life-threatening” reaction to sesame, which was present in a Pret product despite an absence of suitable allergen labelling. The girl's mother, a doctor, contacted Pret a Manger and was told the allergen was not mentioned on the product, so she cautioned them that “other serious adverse incidents could easily occur”. A woman almost died following a reaction to a baguette in October 2015, despite the patient's family warning Pret A Manger the firm did not label products with allergy information. The coroner said the labelling was inadequate.
In July 2016, 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, died from an allergic reaction to sesame after eating a Pret sandwich, the packaging of which did not list sesame as an ingredient, but which nevertheless contained some. Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, the girl's father, said, “When my mother called and told me that the baguette contained sesame, I was taken aback … I was completely horrified. It was their fault… I was stunned that a big food company like Pret could mislabel a sandwich and this could cause my daughter to die.” The lawyer for the family said a photograph, taken at the store eight days after the girl’s death, indicated no sticker warning concerning allergens was there. Nine out of 21 allergic reactions that Pret a Manger recorded in the year before Natasha’s death included sesame, and six of those reportedly after having eaten an artisan baguette. Four patients went to hospital and one to a medical centre.
In 2017 Celia Marsh was a second victim who died from an allergic reaction to Pret a Manger products. A product, claimed by Pret to be dairy-free, contained traces of dairy. Pret a Manger blames a supplier. The supplier, CoYo, disputed the allegation and maintains Pret a Manger hampered its investigations by refusing to reveal the batch number of the affected batch.
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- Pret inquest: Baguette allergy alerts before girl's death BBC
- Pret inquest: Allergy labelling ‘inadequate’ in baguette death BBC
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- Pret a Manger confirms second allergy death BBC
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- Second Pret a Manger allergy victim named as Celia Marsh The Guardian
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