This company hopes you are as ready to eat as its sandwiches. Pret A Manger Holdings operates a leading quick service restaurant chain with more than 260 signature sandwich shops in the UK, the US, and Hong Kong. Its menu features handmade sandwiches (including baguettes and wraps), salads, sushi, and desserts and bakery items, along with teas and coffees. Fresh ingredients are delivered each morning to the shops, and leftovers are donated to local charities in the evenings. Co-founders, former surveyor Julian Metcalfe and his friend Sinclair Beecham, opened their first sandwich shop in 1986. An investment group led by Bridgepoint Capital owns the company.
Pret has become a popular chain in the UK, where it continues to build out locations to expand into new markets. The company has had a more difficult time in the US, however, where the sandwich market has become crowded by fast-food players such as Subway and Quiznos. Pret operates the majority of its locations throughout the UK. It has nearly two dozen locations in New York City and one in Washington, DC, and less than a dozen in Hong Kong.
To differentiate itself from the competition, the company has come up with new service offerings, which include delivery services in New York and the UK, as well as a new business model for the UK called "Local Pret." While Pret A Manger makes its bread and butter from take-away sandwiches in bustling, urban locations during the weekday, the Local Pret concept expands the company's reach to suburbs, smaller townships, and tourist attractions. Instead of take-away sandwiches, Local Pret wants its customers to dine-in from a full menu, seven days a week.
Several years ago when the company was looking for an infusion of cash from a new investor, Pret A Manger put itself up for sale and finally inked a $670 million deal with private equity firm Bridgepoint the following year. Goldman Sachs also took a minority holding as part of the buyout. Bridgepoint plans to boost funding for international expansion efforts.
US-based fast food giant McDonald's cashed out its one-third stake in the business in the buyout. It had acquired the interest in the company for about $40 million in 2001. – less