According to the United Nations, the single most important step an individual can take to reduce global warming is to adopt a meat and dairy-free diet. Many companies around the globe are responding to this reality by providing plant-based options for their customers.
Pret got its start in London in 1986. Originally named Pret A Manger (‘Ready to Eat’), the company made a name for itself by serving fresh, handmade sandwiches using preservative-free ingredients. Today, Pret has 450 stores located in the US, UK, Hong Kong, France, Shanghai, and Dubai. As of 2013, revenues had eclipsed $500 million (pounds).
Despite their phenomenal growth, Pret wanted to push the envelope even further.
It all started with a simple question posed by CEO Clive Schlee on Pret’s blog: ‘How can Pret deliver more delicious vegetarian food?’ In a matter of weeks, 10,000 customer comments flooded in. Even Sir Paul McCartney emailed. The results were overwhelming. 96% wanted a veggie pret store or a veggie booth in the Pret stores.
Their customers had spoken. Smartly, Pret listened.
In June of ‘16, Pret launched a pop-up Veggie Pret (no meat) in London as an experiment to test demand. Management wasn’t expecting much success. In fact, sales were projected to decrease 30 percent. Much to their surprise, sales surged over 70%. Half of the diners were meat-eaters. At times, customers even resorted to sitting on the floor to eat their lunch due to crowding. Wow.
In light of this resounding success, Pret decided to make this location permanent and is adding another one nearby.
What’s really noteworthy is that they’ve decided to go global with this initiative.
Recently, Pret decided to add a ‘Veggie Booth’ in all of their Hong Kong stores through a collaboration with Green Monday. This campaign has been dubbed ‘not just for veggies,’ in an attempt to appeal to the significant meat-eating population in Hong Kong. Pret’s goal is to encourage meat eaters to try more veggie food by making sure it looks and tastes better. So far, they’ve received an enthusiastic response from customers and the media. It’s likely no coincidence that the launch of the campaign helped Pret’s Hong Kong business enjoy three consecutive weeks of record sales.
The next stop for Pret was America.
They launched a new veggie lineup in all US stores, introducing 20 vibrant recipes created to appeal to both vegans and meat-eaters. Pret’s US customers have shown signs that they’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of meat in their diets, regularly requesting more veggie and vegan options through Pret’s social media channels. Feedback from management has insinuated that they’re off to a very strong start. Things are going so well for Pret that they’re considering an IPO for later this year.
‘ The top selling eight new products at Veggie Pret are all vegan, which either shows that vegan dishes can be just as delicious as veggie dishes, or we have underestimated how strong the vegan movement is.’ – Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret
(Pret donates food to charities instead of throwing it away, donating over 735,955 meals to those in need in 2016), and commitments to broiler chicken reform by 2024, Pret should continue to attract a wide range of customers. It will be interesting to see how Pret’s management team continues to harness this new growth engine. Either way, one thing seems certain: Pret will rely on making greens to make more green.
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”