PRET A MANGER GROWS THROUGH CONTINUOUS INNOVATION

April 12th, 2012

Pret A Manger as it is today

This world-famous brand name was created in 1983 by Food & Drink Innovation Network founder Jeffrey Hyman who, together with a group of stakeholders from the ad agency and showbiz world, opened the first Pret A Manger in Hampstead, North West London.

The name Pret A Manger, which means ready-to-eat, was coined by Hyman’s sister Valerie, a fashion Guru, who morphed the title from Pret A Porter, meaning ready to wear.

The outlet focused on an intriguing gourmet + ready-to-eat positioning which was inspired by the Traiteurs of Paris combined with the upscale steel and chrome sandwich bars of New York City.  The fusion of sophistication + convenience was unique at the time.

The ‘flag-ship’ store, located strategically opposite Hampstead Underground station, had its own kitchen and offered ready-to-eat French classics such as Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq Au Vin, freshly cooked vegetables, an array of salads and regional cheeses, as well as filled baguettes, pastries, and the sandwiches which characterise the Prets of today.  Most of the products were taken away, but there was a small cafe area for customers to eat and drink in the store.

The advertising agency was Horner Collis & Kirvan founded by three partners who had recently left Kirkwood’s.  The opening campaign used poster sites, the London underground, local press and door-to-door leafleting.

Continual product and service innovation mean that the offering has changed but like all good brands the graphic device created in the 80’s by Kirkwood’s Art Director Mike Earl, has endured.  The hand drawn art-deco typeface, maroon and white house colours and the sophisticated but convenient look and feel have even more relevance now than they had in the 80’s.

In the last 30 years Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham, who bought this store plus the brand have developed Pret nationally and internationally into the business it is today.

Pret has now unveiled plans to open 44 new stores this year, 20 of which will be overseas.

The planned expansion will create in excess of 550 new jobs in the UK.

Its growth plans were made public as Pret announced a rise in sales of 15% for the past year to £377.3m.

The chain currently operates 294 outlets globally, most of them in the UK.

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