Pret a Manger turbocharges its veggie push with Eat acquisition
The UK high street chain has agreed to acquire Eat from private equity firm Horizon Capital for an undisclosed amount, although sources have said the deal could be valued between £55m ($69.4m) and $60m ($75.7m).
The first Eat outlet was opened in London in 1996. Today, the chain has 94 premises – predominantly in London, with a small number in other cities including Birmingham and Manchester, and one in Paris.
However, it has struggled with the growing competition in the fast-food sector and posted a loss of £17.2m ($21.7m) in the year ending June 20, 2018.
Pret plans to transform many of Eat’s outlets into Veggie Prets, a concept created by Pret’s CEO Clive Schlee after his daughter converted to vegetarianism.
“The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers... The acquisition of the EAT estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbo charge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it,” said Schlee.
“We want to make them really dynamic, green spaces with a lot more recipes and if that’s working well then we will look to expand further,” he added.
Brits spent over £1.3bn on vegan and vegetarian products in 2018. According to the Vegan Society, more than half of UK adults have adopted ‘vegan buying behavior,’ while the number of full-time vegans in the UK has grown fourfold in the past decade.
Conversely, overall spending on meat fell 2% to £8bn ($10bn) in the year to April, according to Nielsen.
Pret – which was bought for £1.5bn ($1.8bn) by Luxembourg-based investment company JAB Holdings in May last year – has more than 500 stores in nine countries. It opened the first Veggie outlet in 2016 in London and later expanded to three further locations in the UK.