Pret a Manger

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Pret a Manger
IndustryFast casual restaurant
Number of locations
450+ [1]
Area served
United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, China, France, Germany, Denmark, Dubai, The Netherlands and Singapore[2]
Key people
Clive Schlee (CEO)
ProductsSandwiches, salads, sushi, soups, coffees and snacks
RevenueIncrease £776 Million (2016) [3]
Increase £93 Million (2016) [3]
OwnerBridgepoint Capital 70% stake; management and staff 30% stake
Inside Pret a Manger, Victoria, London

Pret a Manger /ˈprɛt ə ˈmɑːnʒ/ is an international[4][5] sandwich shop chain based in the United Kingdom, commonly referred to simply as "Pret".[6] Founded in 1983, Pret currently has over 450 shops in nine countries.


First Pret a Manger restaurant[edit]

Jeffrey Hyman[7] founded the first Pret a Manger in London on 21 October 1983.[8] The first Pret A Manger shop opened in Hampstead, London, in 1984.[9][10] 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[11] 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.[12]

Pret A Manger, 1986 onwards[edit]

Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham started a new operation, but using the Pret A Manger name purchased from the former company's liquidator.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

The first shop outside of London was opened on Broad Street, New York in 2000.[16] In 2016, there were 74 Pret shops in the United States.[18]

In 2001, McDonald's bought a 33% non-controlling stake in the company,[19] which they sold in 2008 to private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital.[20][21]

The company opened its first shop in France in 2012,[16] and had a total of 19 shops in France in 2016.[18]

In 2016, its group sales were £776 million.[18]

On 19 March 2018, the company opened it first store in The Netherlands located in the central railway station of Utrecht.

On 29 May 2018, JAB Holding Company announced that it will acquire Pret A Manger from Bridgepoint, with the deal expected to complete during summer 2018.[22][23]

Store to open in Qatar 2018.[citation needed]


Exterior view Pret a Manger, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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.[24] 67% of its trade is in London, where around three-quarters of its stores are located. Locations include:


Pret a Manger graphic scheme, London storefront

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.[27]

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.[28] Each store contains levels of positions that range from Team Member to the General Manager of the store.[29] 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.[28] All the office employees are paired with a "buddy shop" where they work at least two days a year.[30]

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.[31]

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!"[32] 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.[33]


Affective labour issues[edit]

Pret A Manger has been cited as being particularly vigorous in extracting affective labour from its employees.[34] Affective labour (or emotional labour)[35] 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.[36] Pret A Manger uses mystery shoppers to ensure that employees deploy markers of a positive emotional state.[34][37] Employees who exhibit markers of latent sadness face consequences such as not having a bonus.[34][37] This has led to some criticism of the company for over-reaching[34][35][38] while drawing praise from right-wing commentators and other business owners for its business practices.[37][39]

Pret A Manger Staff Union[edit]

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.[40] Andrej Stopa, the founder of the union, was later sacked from his Pret branch.[41]

Failure to list ingredients[edit]

Pret a Manger does not consistently list all ingredients on packages.[citation needed]

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”.[42] 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.[43] The coroner said the labelling was inadequate.[44]

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.[45][46] 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.[47][42] 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.[48] The supplier, CoYo, disputed the allegation[49] and maintains Pret a Manger hampered its investigations by refusing to reveal the batch number of the affected batch.[50]


  1. ^ FIND A PRET. Pret a Manger. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ FIND A PRET. Pret a Manger. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Bridge, Sarah. "Pret A Manger: 2016 results and highlights". IGD Retail Analysis. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?".
  5. ^ "Freshly prepared food, organic coffee".
  6. ^ "Company Overview of Pret a Manger (Europe) Ltd". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Prêt à Manger founder Jeffrey Hyman dies at 67". The Grocer.
  8. ^ "Trouble in the happy factory: Pret A Manger faces its biggest crisis yet". New Statesman. 11 October 2018.
  9. ^ Company Number 1763373, Pret A Manger Shareholders included Robin Wight and Andrew Garner, both directors of advertising agency WCRS; James Pilditch; Monty White; singer Lynsey de Paul; Jeffrey Hyman; and Valerie Hyman.
  10. ^ "The Food & Drink Innovation Network". The FDIN. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  11. ^ company check ltd (28 April 2016). "PRET A MANGER (HAMPSTEAD) LIMITED. Free business summary taken from official companies house information. Registered as 01763373". Company Check. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  12. ^ The Startups Team (18 March 2003). "Pret A Manger: Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham".
  13. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  14. ^ "About the Founders". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "About Pret". Archived from the original on 2015-05-11. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Pret Charity Run". Archived from the original on 2015-05-02. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  18. ^ a b c "Financial Results 2016". Archived from the original on 2017-04-29. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  19. ^ "G2: Pret a Manger goes global | World news". The Guardian. London. 1 February 2001. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  20. ^ "McDonald's offloads Pret stake to Bridgepoint". Brand Republic News. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  21. ^ Sibun, Jonathan (23 February 2008). "Pret a Manger to be sold to private equity". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  22. ^ "Pret a Manger staff to get £1,000 bonus after takeover". BBC News. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  23. ^ "JAB to Acquire Majority Stake in Pret A Manger" (PDF). JAB Holding Company. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  24. ^ "Sandwich Packaging | Pret A Manger Case Study | RAP". 20 June 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  25. ^ Anderson, Robert (16 March 2016). "Wolfgang Puck restaurant among new openings at Dubai International Concourse D". Gulf Business. Archived from the original on 1 May 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Freshly prepared food, organic coffee | Pret A Manger Copenhagen". Retrieved 2019-02-10.
  27. ^ The Economist: Employment: A new mix - In London, almost one in every nine workers is a foreign citizen. 24 September 1998
  28. ^ a b "Good jobs | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  29. ^ "Smiley culture: Pret A Manger's secret ingredients". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  31. ^ Julia Werdigier (9 May 2012). "Rallying the Team to Cater to the Company's Strengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  32. ^ "The Pret Behaviours". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  33. ^ Matt Blumberg (16 May 2011). "Pret A Manger". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  34. ^ a b c d Paul Myerscough (3 January 2013). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  35. ^ a b Timothy Noah (1 February 2013). "Labor of Love: The enforced happiness of Pret A Manger". The New Republic. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  36. ^ "Pret Behaviors". Pret A Manger official website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  37. ^ a b c Stephanie Clifford (6 August 2011). "Would You Like a Smile With That?". New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  38. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2 February 2013). "Caring Is Creepy (When Enforced By Others)". Moneybox. Slate. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  39. ^ Marty Lariviere (11 August 2011). "Pret A Manger: A different way of managing fast food workers". The Operations Room. Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University). Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  40. ^ "About Us". Pret a Manager Staff Union. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  41. ^ "Pret fires longstanding employee who attempted to unionise, asked for the London Living Wage for all employees". Boing Boing. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  42. ^ a b Davies, Caroline (25 September 2018). "Pret a Manger 'had nine similar allergic reactions in year before girl died'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  43. ^ Pret inquest: Baguette allergy alerts before girl's death BBC
  44. ^ Pret inquest: Allergy labelling ‘inadequate’ in baguette death BBC
  45. ^ Siddique, Haroon (26 September 2018). "Pret a Manger: coroner in teen allergy inquest troubled by packaging rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  46. ^ Pret baguette inquest: Plea for help after allergic reaction BBC
  47. ^ Siddique, Haroon. "Father of girl who died of allergy on plane blames Pret a Manger". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  48. ^ Pret a Manger confirms second allergy death BBC
  49. ^ Topping, Alexandra (7 October 2018). "Second Pret customer died after allergic reaction to sandwich". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  50. ^ Second Pret a Manger allergy victim named as Celia Marsh The Guardian

External links[edit]