Pret a Manger
Inside Pret a Manger, Victoria, London
|Industry||Fast casual restaurant|
Number of locations
|United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, China, France, Germany, Denmark, Dubai and Singapore|
|Pano Christou (CEO)|
|Products||Sandwiches, salads, sushi, soups, coffees and snacks|
|Revenue||£776 Million (2016)|
|£93 Million (2016)|
|Owner||JAB Holding Company|
Pret a Manger / / (French for ready to eat) is an international sandwich shop franchise chain based in the United Kingdom, popularly referred to as Pret. Founded in 1983, Pret currently has over 450 shops in nine countries.
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.
Opening in June 1983, the company traded at 58 Hampstead High Street for 18 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
Beecham and Metcalfe started a new operation, using the Pret A Manger name purchased from the former company's liquidator. They opened their first Pret A Manger in July 1986, located at 75b Victoria Street in London. Beecham and Metcalfe met while studying at university.
The pair developed the chain's menu of handmade natural food, prepared in shop kitchens, and they remain significant shareholders in the company.
In 1995, Metcalfe and Beecham set up the Pret Foundation Trust with the aim of alleviating 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.
On 27 August 2020, the company announced that it would cut 2,890 jobs from its UK workforce (more than a third of the current employees). The primary reason given was a severe downturn in trade during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most jobs would be lost from shops with 90 roles lost in the company support centre.
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. It 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 1 in every 14 applicants. Applicants go on a one-day experience day at a shop and their success is determined by votes from the staff members. 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 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 a region and maintaining communication with the company's CEO in London. All 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 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 on packaging
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 on the packaging. 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.
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 on the packages. The coroner said the labelling was inadequate.
In 2017, 42-year-old Celia Marsh 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 blamed 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 product.
Notes and references
- FIND A PRET. Pret a Manger. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "CLIVE SCHLEE TO RETIRE AS PRET CEO; PANO CHRISTOU APPOINTED SUCCESSOR". www.pret.com.
- Bridge, Sarah. "Pret A Manger: 2016 results and highlights". IGD Retail Analysis. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
- "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?". Bloomberg.com.
- "Freshly prepared food, organic coffee". Pret.co.uk.
- "Company Overview of Pret a Manger (Europe) Ltd". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- Leyland, Adam (26 January 2017). "Prêt à Manger founder Jeffrey Hyman dies at 67". The Grocer. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- Kakum, Arun (11 October 2018). "Trouble in the happy factory: Pret A Manger faces its biggest crisis yet". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- 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.
- "The Food & Drink Innovation Network". The FDIN. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- DueDil (26 February 2019). "PRET A MANGER (HAMPSTEAD) LIMITED. Business summary taken from official UK Companies House information. Registered Company Number 01763373". Company Check. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- The Startups Team (18 March 2003). "Pret A Manger: Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Pret.co.uk. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "About the Founders". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Pret.co.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "About Pret". Pret.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "Pret Charity Run". Pret.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 May 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "Financial Results 2016". Pret.co.uk. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "G2: Pret a Manger goes global | World news". The Guardian. London. 1 February 2001. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- "McDonald's offloads Pret stake to Bridgepoint". Brand Republic News. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Sibun, Jonathan (23 February 2008). "Pret a Manger to be sold to private equity". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- "Pret a Manger is opening a vegetarian-only shop". 28 March 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
- "Pret a Manger staff to get £1,000 bonus after takeover". BBC News. 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "JAB to Acquire Majority Stake in Pret A Manger" (PDF). JAB Holding Company. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
- "These new owners of Pret a Manger have really started ringing the changes". Yorkshire Evening Post. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
- Evans, Judith; Hancock, Alice (27 August 2020). "Pret A Manger slashes third of its workforce". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
- "Pret A Manger to cut 3,000 jobs in the UK". BBC News. 27 August 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
- "Sandwich Packaging | Pret A Manger Case Study | RAP". Rapuk.com. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- 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.
- "Freshly prepared food, organic coffee | Pret A Manger Copenhagen". www.pret.dk. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- The Economist: Employment: A new mix - In London, almost one in every nine workers is a foreign citizen. 24 September 1998
- "Good jobs | Pret A Manger". Pret.com. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Smiley culture: Pret A Manger's secret ingredients". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Organic Coffee, Natural Food | Pret A Manger". Pret.com. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- Julia Werdigier (9 May 2012). "Rallying the Team to Cater to the Company's Strengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "The Pret Behaviours". Pret.com. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- Matt Blumberg (16 May 2011). "Pret A Manger". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- Paul Myerscough (3 January 2013). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Timothy Noah (1 February 2013). "Labor of Love: The enforced happiness of Pret A Manger". The New Republic. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- "Pret Behaviors". Pret A Manger official website. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Stephanie Clifford (6 August 2011). "Would You Like a Smile With That?". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Matthew Yglesias (2 February 2013). "Caring Is Creepy (When Enforced By Others)". Moneybox. Slate. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- 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.
- "About Us". Pret a Manager Staff Union. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "Pret fires longstanding employee who attempted to unionise, asked for the London Living Wage for all employees". Boing Boing. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- 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.
- Pret inquest: Baguette allergy alerts before girl's death BBC
- Siddique, Haroon (26 September 2018). "Pret a Manger: coroner in teen allergy inquest troubled by packaging rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- Pret baguette inquest: Plea for help after allergic reaction BBC
- Siddique, Haroon. "Father of girl who died of allergy on plane blames Pret a Manger". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
- Pret inquest: Allergy labelling ‘inadequate’ in baguette death BBC
- Pret a Manger confirms second allergy death BBC
- Topping, Alexandra (7 October 2018). "Second Pret customer died after allergic reaction to sandwich". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- Morris, Steven; Mohdin, Aamna (8 October 2018). "Family of second Pret a Manger allergy victim call for answers". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
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