Pret a Manger

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Pret a Manger
Industry Retail outlets
Headquarters London, England, UK
Number of locations
Increase 486 (July 2017)[citation needed]
Area served
United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, China, France, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Scandinavia
Key people
Clive Schlee (CEO)
Products Sandwiches, salads, sushi, soups, coffees and snacks
Revenue Increase £ 776 Million (2016) [1]
Increase £ 93 Million (2016) [1]
Owner Bridgepoint Capital 70% stake; management and staff 30% stake
Inside Pret a Manger, Victoria Place, London

Pret A Manger /ˈprɛt ə ˈmɑːnʒ/ is an international sandwich shop chain based in the United Kingdom, commonly referred to simply as "Pret".[2] Founded in 1983, Pret currently has approximately 500 shops in eight countries.


First Pret a Manger restaurant[edit]

Jeffrey Hyman[3] founded the first Pret a Manger in London on 21 October 1983. The first Pret A Manger shop opened in Hampstead, London, in 1984.[4][5] 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[6] at which time takings had dropped to below break-even point and the company went into liquidation. The name was purchased from the company liquidator David Rubin by college friends Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe.[7]

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 companies liquidator.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

The first shop outside of London was opened on Broad Street, New York in 2000.[11] In 2016 there were 74 Pret shops in the United States.[13]

In 2001, McDonald's bought a 33% non-controlling stake in the company,[14] which they sold in 2008 to private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, owners of clothing retailer Fat Face.[15][16]

The company opened its first shop in France in 2012,[11] and had a total of 19 shops in France in 2016.[13]

In 2016, its group sales were £776 million.[13]


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.[17] 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.[22]

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.[23] Each store contains levels of positions that range from Team Member to the General Manager of the store.[24] 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.[23] All the office employees are paired with a "buddy shop" where they work at least two days a year.[25]

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.[26]

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!"[27] 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.[28]


Affective labour issues[edit]

Pret A Manger has been cited as being particularly vigorous in extracting affective labour from its employees.[29] Affective labour (or emotional labour)[30] 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.[31] Pret A Manger uses mystery shoppers to ensure that employees deploy markers of a positive emotional state.[29][32] Employees who exhibit markers of latent sadness are punished with aggressive zeal.[29][32] This has led to some criticism of the company for over-reaching[29][30][33] while drawing some praise for the business model.[32][34]

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.[35] Andrej Stopa, the founder of the union, was later sacked from his Pret branch.[36][37]


  1. ^ a b Bridge, Sarah. "Pret A Manger: 2016 results and highlights". IGD Retail Analysis. Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  2. ^ "Company Overview of Pret a Manger (Europe) Ltd". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  3. ^ "Prêt à Manger founder Jeffrey Hyman dies at 67". 
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "The Food & Drink Innovation Network". The FDIN. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ The Startups Team (18 March 2003). "Pret A Manger: Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham". 
  8. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  9. ^ "About the Founders". Pret A Manger. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food". Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  11. ^ a b c "About Pret". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  12. ^ "Pret Charity Run". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  13. ^ a b c "Financial Results 2016". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  14. ^ "G2: Pret a Manger goes global | World news". The Guardian. London. 1 February 2001. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  15. ^ "McDonald's offloads Pret stake to Bridgepoint". Brand Republic News. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  16. ^ Sibun, Jonathan (23 February 2008). "Pret a Manger to be sold to private equity". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  17. ^ "Sandwich Packaging | Pret A Manger Case Study | RAP". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  18. ^ "Pret-a-Manger opens on Boylston Next Monday". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "Pret A Manger Opens its Largest U.S. Cafe in Boston Tomorrow". streetwise. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c Rainey, Clint (2017-05-10). "Americans May Soon Be Seeing a Lot More Pret a Mangers". New York Media LLC. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 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. 
  21. ^ Anderson, Robert (2016-03-16). "Wolfgang Puck restaurant among new openings at Dubai International Concourse D". Gulf Business. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  22. ^ The Economist: Employment: A new mix - In London, almost one in every nine workers is a foreign citizen. 24 September 1998
  23. ^ a b "Good jobs | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  24. ^ "Smiley culture: Pret A Manger's secret ingredients". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  25. ^ "Organic Coffee, Natural Food | Pret A Manger". Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  26. ^ Julia Werdigier (9 May 2012). "Rallying the Team to Cater to the Company's Strengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Pret Behaviours". Pret a Manger. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  28. ^ Matt Blumberg (16 May 2011). "Pret A Manger". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  29. ^ a b c d Paul Myerscough (3 January 2013). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Timothy Noah (1 February 2013). "Labor of Love: The enforced happiness of Pret A Manger". The New Republic. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Pret Behaviors". Pret A Manger official website. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  32. ^ a b c Stephani Clifford (6 August 2011). "Would You Like a Smile With That?". New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  33. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2 February 2013). "Caring Is Creepy (When Enforced By Others)". Moneybox. Slate. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ "About Us". Pret a Manager Staff Union. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  36. ^ "Pret fires longstanding employee who attempted to unionise, asked for the London Living Wage for all employees". Boing Boing. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  37. ^ 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. 

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