The popular food chain Pret A Manger is undergoing a strategic shift by phasing out its vegetarian-only outlets.
Despite closing its vegetarian stores, Pret will continue to serve more vegetarian meals to its customers across its regular stores. The final three Veggie Pret stores, situated in London and Manchester, are set to transition into regular Prets by the end of this month. Originally launched eight years ago, the specialized outlets, which were once instrumental as an "innovation hub," are now deemed unnecessary as customers increasingly embrace vegetarian options across all Pret A Manger locations.
Katherine Bagshawe, the UK food and coffee director at Pret A Manger, emphasized that "Every Pret is a Veggie Pret shop," noting that one in every three main meals sold is now vegetarian or vegan. The decision to discontinue the Veggie Pret concept aligns with the evolving dietary preferences of patrons, rendering exclusive vegetarian outlets obsolete.
The Veggie Pret stores played a pivotal role as an experimental platform for launching innovative vegetarian and vegan products. Recent additions included a "VLT" sandwich, substituting bacon in a traditional BLT with mushroom "rashers," and a Thai-inspired sticky mushroom Banh Mi baguette featuring meatless meatballs.
The surge in interest in vegan and vegetarian food in recent years, driven by health considerations and environmental concerns over meat and dairy production, has been evident. However, the market for meat substitutes has become increasingly crowded, leading to challenges for producers in finding their niche. Signs of a potential slowdown in the specialist vegan product market are emerging, as highlighted by a Macclesfield-based vegan restaurant's decision to introduce meat products due to business sustainability concerns.
Pret A Manger initially introduced its Veggie Pret outlets in 2016, contributing to the brand's image as a vegetarian-friendly establishment. While the distinctive green frontages of these outlets began to fade over the years, the decision to fully phase out the Veggie-only experiment gained momentum in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of its post-Covid strategy, Pret is concentrating on regional towns and cities outside of London, with recent openings in locations such as Bishop's Stortford, Colchester, and Worthing.
The last three Veggie Prets slated for conversion are located on Broadwich Street and Great Eastern Street in London, along with the Deansgate store in Manchester. The strategic shift aligns with Pret A Manger's commitment to adapt to changing market dynamics and cater to the evolving preferences of its diverse customer base.
Established in 1986, Pret A Manger has evolved from serving sandwiches to offering a range of on-the-go lunch products, including soups and salads. With over 400 outlets across the UK, the chain is owned by JAB Holding, a German conglomerate that aims to double the chain's size within five years. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Pret opened 41 new outlets in the UK last year, showcasing its resilience and commitment to growth in an ever-changing market landscape.