The Future 50
Pret a Manger
Pret a Manger is a grab-and-go sandwich concept exported from the U.K. The international concept is designed like an old-time Automat—prepackaged foods are displayed in temperature-controlled cases for customers to grab and go. The service format emphasizes convenience and speed; patrons typically make their selections and check out within 90 seconds. In addition to this model, Pret a Manger is testing a delivery program. The chain is in the midst of developing what it calls “Pret Local,” an interpretation of the original concept that offers more of a fast-casual positioning. This model is designed to operate in suburban markets. Pret a Manger was first opened in London in 1986. Parent company Pret a Manger Ltd. took the concept abroad in 2000 with the opening of a unit in the Wall Street area of New York. In early 2001, McDonald’s Corp. acquired a 33 percent stake in the concept for an estimated $50 million. McDonald’s sold off its stake early in 2008 to private-equity firm Bridgepoint Capital for an estimated $678.8 million. Pret currently has no plans to franchise but is continuing expansion outside of New York and into other high-traffic, densely populated urban areas.