Pret a Manger
|Headquarters||London, England, UK|
Number of locations
|486 (July 2017)|
|United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, China, France, United Arab Emirates and Singapore|
|Clive Schlee (CEO), Nicholas Candler (COO)|
|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|
First Pret a Manger restaurant
Jeffrey Hyman founded the first Pret a Manger in London on the 21st of 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. It was sold by company liquidator David Rubin to 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 and brand purchased from the former companies 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.
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
- Boston: 6 outlets, as of April 2016. Two stores opened in December 2012, in the Back Bay and Financial District. 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.
- 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.
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- Hong Kong
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 organizational 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 are punished with aggressive zeal. This has led to some criticism of the company for over-reaching while drawing some praise for the business model.
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.
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It has about 30 more U.S. stores in Chicago, Boston, and D.C., and a Wall Street debut could mean a higher valuation for the company, given England’s bad market right now.
- Anderson, Robert (2016-03-16). "Wolfgang Puck restaurant among new openings at Dubai International Concourse D". Gulf Business. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- The Economist: Employment: A new mix - In London, almost one in every nine workers is a foreign citizen. 24 September 1998
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- "Pret Behaviors". Pret A Manger official website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Stephani Clifford (6 August 2011). "Would You Like a Smile With That?". 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.
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