Pret a Manger

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Pret a Manger
Industry Retail outlets
Founded 1984
Founders Jeffrey Hyman
Headquarters City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Number of locations
Increase 374 (April 2015)
Area served
United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, France
Key people
Clive Schlee (CEO), Nicholas Candler (COO)
Products Sandwiches, salads, sushi, soups, coffees and snacks
Revenue Increase £ 510 Million (2013) [1]
Increase £ 41 Million (2013) [1]
Owner Bridgepoint Capital
Inside Pret A Manger, Victoria Place, London

Pret a Manger /ˈprɛt ə ˈmɑːnʒ/ is a fast food chain based in the United Kingdom.[2]


The first Pret a Manger was opened in Hampstead, London, in 1984 by Jeffrey Hyman.[3][4]

The name Prêt à Manger (French pronunciation: ​[pʁɛt‿a mɑ̃ʒe], ready to eat) was coined by Hyman's sister Valerie Tomalin, based on prêt-à-porter, French for "ready-to-wear" clothing. The outlet focused on gourmet, ready-to-eat food which was inspired by the Parisian ready-to-go shops called traiteurs. The store's design was inspired by steel and chrome up-market sandwich bars dotted in and around Manhattan which Hyman visited very often on food research missions. He was particularly impressed with DDL Foodshow on the Upper West Side and Zabar's on Broadway.

This first store was located opposite Hampstead Underground station, had its own kitchen, and offered ready-to-heat main courses as well as the mini-quiches, filled baguettes Croque-monsieur and other ready-to-go convenience foods which have now become classics. There was also a small cafe area for customers to eat and drink at the front of the store.

Hyman commissioned Mike Earl, then Art Director at Kirkwood's advertising agency,[5] to design the now-famous logo which is much the same now as it was then (See illustration right). Horner Collis & Kirvan[6] developed the advertising and promotion campaign for poster-sites, the London Underground, local press and door-to-door leafleting.

The original logo by Mike Earl with a hand drawn art nouveau typeface, maroon and white house colours. 1984 Pret A Manger, 58 Hampstead High Street, London, United Kingdom

Opening in June 1984 the company traded at 58 Hampstead High Street eighteen months. After a successful year The Greater London Council erected scaffolding to repair the roof and takings dropped to below break-even point and the company went into liquidation.[7] It was sold by company liquidator David Rubin to college friends Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe. Metcalfe later founded the Itsu chain of sushi cafes and Metcalfe's Foods); the two met while studying at the Polytechnic of Central London.[citation needed]

Beecham and Metcalfe had little business experience. Their company claims they "created the sort of food they craved but could not find anywhere else."[8] They opened their first branch near Victoria Station, London.[9]

In 2001, McDonald's bought a 33% non-controlling stake in the USA branch of the company,[10] which they sold in 2008 to private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, owners of clothing retailer Fat Face.[11][12]

In 2011 its sales were £377 million.[13]

As of 2012, efforts were underway in London to unionise shop employees.[citation needed]



Exterior view Pret A Manger, Edinburgh, Scotland

The menu includes sandwiches, baguettes, pots and desserts, cold drinks, hot drinks, crisps and bakery items, as well as sushi, salads, soups, and cakes.[2]

The company emphasises the use of natural ingredients and advertises all 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.[14]


67% of its trade is in London, where around three-quarters of its stores are located. As of February 2014, there were 289 UK shops, 187 in London, nine in Scotland and two in Wales. There are 92 outlets throughout the rest of the UK.[15] Pret has expanded to New York (38 stores), Hong Kong (14 stores), Washington, D.C. (7 stores), Boston (4 stores) and Chicago (9 stores). Unlike many other fast food outlets, Pret a Manger does not franchise.

Exterior of a Pret a Manger cafe on Coventry Street, London
  • Hong Kong: 14 outlets, as of February 2014.[16]
  • New York: 38 outlets, as of February 2014.[17]
  • Chicago: 9 outlets, as of February 2014.[17]
  • Washington, D.C.: 7 outlets, as of February 2014.[17]
  • Shanghai: 1 outlet, as of October 2014.
  • Paris: 12 outlets, as of May 2015. The first outlet in France opened on 9 January 2012. The shop was opened in La Défense a major business district of the Paris aire urbaine.[18]
  • Boston: 4 outlets, as of June 2014. Two stores opened in December 2012, in the Back Bay and Financial District.[19] In June 2014, Pret opened its largest American location in Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood. This location stands at 5,335 square feet and can seat 100 people.[20]



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.[21]


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.[22] Each store contains levels of positions that range from Team Member to the General Manager of the store.[23] 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.[22] All the office employees are paired with a "buddy shop" where they work at least two days a year.[24]

While the uppermost levels of management are located in the offices, not all the office jobs are above the store jobs in the organizational structure. Pret does not franchise any of its stores, in order to keep management strategies uniform across the entire brand.[25] 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.[25]

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!"[26] 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.[27]


Affective labour issues[edit]

Pret a Manger has been cited as being particularly vigorous in extracting affective labour from its employees.[28] Affective labour (or emotional labour)[29] 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.[30] Pret A Manger uses mystery shoppers to ensure that employees deploy markers of a positive emotional state.[28][31] This has led to some criticism of the company for overreaching[28][29][32] while drawing some praise for the business model.[31][33]

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.[34] Andrej Stopa, the founder of the union was later sacked from his Pret branch.[35][36]


  1. ^ a b Bridge, Sarah. "Debt-laden Pret a Manger turns £500m sales into a loss". This is Money. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Company Overview of Pret A Manger (Europe) Ltd.". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved November 2012. 
  3. ^ Company Number 1763373, Pret A Manger (Hampstead) Ltd, incorporated 21 October 1983. Shareholders include Robin Wight and Peter Scott both directors of advertising agency WCRS, James Pilditch, Monty White, Lynsey de Paul Singer, Jeffrey Hyman and Valerie Hyman.
  4. ^ "The Food & Drink Innovation Network". The FDIN. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "About the Founders". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Pret a Manger founders sitting pretty". The Daily Telegraph (London). 24 February 2008. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  10. ^ "G2: Pret a Manger goes global | World news". The Guardian (London). 1 February 2001. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  11. ^ "McDonald's offloads Pret stake to Bridgepoint". Brand Republic News. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  12. ^ Sibun, Jonathan (23 February 2008). "Pret a Manger to be sold to private equity". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  13. ^ "Morning business round-up: Eurozone unemployment rises". BBC News. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2013. rose 15% last year to £377.3m 
  14. ^ "Sandwich Packaging | Pret A Manger Case Study | RAP". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  15. ^ "Shops in the UK". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Shops in HK". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c "Shops in the US". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Pret arrives in Paris". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Pret-a-Manger opens on Boylston Next Monday". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Pret A Manger Opens its Largest U.S. Cafe in Boston Tomorrow". streetwise. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  21. ^ The Economist: Employment: A new mix - In London, almost one in every nine workers is a foreign citizen. 24 September 1998
  22. ^ a b "Good jobs | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  23. ^ "Smiley culture: Pret A Manger's secret ingredients". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  24. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  25. ^ a b Julia Werdigier (May 9, 2012). "Rallying the Team to Cater to the Company’s Strengths". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  26. ^ "The Pret Behaviours". Pret a Manger. Retrieved November 2012. 
  27. ^ Matt Blumberg (15 May 2012). "Pret a Manger". Business Insider. Retrieved November 2012. 
  28. ^ a b c Paul Myerscough (January 3, 2013). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Timothy Noah (February 1, 2013). "Labor of Love: The enforced happiness of Pret A Manger". The New Republic. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Pret Behaviors". Pret A Manger official website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b Stephani Clifford (August 6, 2011). "Would You Like a Smile With That?". New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  32. ^ Matthew Yglesias (February 2, 2013). "Caring Is Creepy (When Enforced By Others)". Moneybox. Slate. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  33. ^ Marty Lariviere (August 11, 2011). "Pret A Manger: A different way of managing fast food workers". The Operations Room. Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University). Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  34. ^ "About Us". Pret a Manager Staff Union. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  35. ^ "Pret fires longstanding employee who attempted to unionise, asked for the London Living Wage for all employees". Boing Boing. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  36. ^ Mcdermott, Kerry (2013-02-02). "Revealed: Pret a Manger's bizarre 'emotional labour' rules for workers who are told to 'be happy', touch each other and NEVER act moody | Daily Mail Online". Retrieved 2015-09-05. 

External links[edit]