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The name of Prêt à Manger sandwich shop roughly translates to 'ready to eat'. This name embodies the restaurant's aim of providing healthy alternatives to fast food. Co-founders and college friends Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe wanted to provide the United Kingdom with healthy on-the-go sandwiches, without compromising the nutritious content of the food. Upon forming this resolve, Beecham and Metcalfe borrowed their capital of £17,000 from a bank, and opened their first Pret deli on Victoria Street in 1986. At the start of their venture, the two friends lacked employees, and they personally prepared each item. Twenty-four years after the launching of Pret, the company has perfected its formula for success, and has opened several branches outside of the United Kingdom.
The aims and objectives of founders Beecham and Metcalfe was to have 'proper sandwiches' without any additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Each store only stocks natural ingredients, and the sandwiches are made on each stores' kitchens in the morning. Each sandwich is packed in cardboard containers, ensuring consumers of the food's quality and freshness. The day's leftovers would be distributed to charities catering to the noble cause of providing food for the homeless.
From its initial launch of 1986, there are more than 200 Pret shops throughout the world. In 2000, the company opened its first branch in New York, and commenced on having another food shop called Itsu, which are sushi restaurants in the UK, during 1997. By 2001, McDonald's was attracted to the speed Pret is establishing itself as a dominant player in the fast food industry, and bought 33% of the company's stake for fifty million pounds. By 2002, Pret opened outlets in Asia, with the blessings of political standing from McDonald's. The last milestone in Pret's current timeline is that by March 2004, the company ceased their ventures in Japan, after incurring losses over eighteen months of testing the market.
After the company's losses in their Asian ventures, Pret re-organized itself into a better, more stable company in terms of closing shops that were making more debts than profits, and reducing their workforce. This happened from 2002 to 2003. After closing the shops that were not making money and reducing the workforce to a number of people which would be just as effective, Pret is right on track, and was targeting to have twenty new stores in the UK in 2005. Currently there are more than 2,200 Pret employees worldwide.
During the year 2004, Pret A Manger was dubbed as the fourth largest company in the United Kingdom's £3.5 billion sandwich bar market. In terms of the branded coffee bar sector, Pret took the sixth place from the £1 billion market share. Lastly, Pret has thousands of customers, and has the consumers' vote for cleanliness and food quality.
Overall the brand started from one small store in the streets of London, and has grown as one of the leading sandwich stores in the UK.
Chapter 2 - Information Gathering
All forms of available media were used by the author to gather ample information for this paper. A thorough contextual analysis was done with all gathered snippets of published materials such as magazines, journals, encyclopedias, newspapers, pamphlets, and books. The author also used the literature found in Pret A Manger's wrapping, wherein they provided recipes for their food in the packaging of their sandwiches.
Aside from published materials, the author investigated all available resources in the public domain such as the Internet. The Internet yielded very crucial information, especially for those renowned websites which provided reviews, overviews, and customer narratives regarding Pret A Manger and other sandwich stores in London. The author also used Pret A Manger's official website to provide an accurate representation of the company within this report, since it is important that the company is not misled in this analysis. Other websites were used as long as they provided pertinent information for this paper.
Yet the information gathering would be incomplete if the author only used contextual analysis to relieve the history of Pret A Manger. Due to this, the author personally frequented Pret stores in London, in order to observe the attitude and relationship of the serving staff, management, and crew towards customers. This attitude and rapport was compared to the actions and relationships with Subway's, since Pret A Manger and Subway are the two leading competitors in the sandwich market.
By frequenting the two stores, the author was able to establish the differences in service, as well as what probable threats and disadvantages Pret A Manger is prone to. Along with casual conversations with fellow diners, the author is able to see what should be done in order to ensure that consumers would continue to utilize Pret over other stores.
Chapter 3 - Analysis & Discussion
3.1 PESTLE Analysis
When McDonalds bought 33% of Pret A Manger's stakes, it brought about a huge windfall of investments for Pret A Manger. Since McDonalds is one of the biggest fast food chains worldwide, other people acknowledged McDo's interest in Pret as equals to generating more profit. After all, if a powerhouse such as McDonalds would be interested in a little sandwich shop in the United Kingdom, then they might have missed something about that sandwich shop.
The simple of act of McDonalds buying a non-controlling stake in the company generated more political power for Pret than never before. A few years after the sale, Pret was able to open at least twenty shops in the United States and Hong Kong.
Pret's political power could be said to have began in McDonalds' interest, and was fueled by the success Pret attained due to its many accomplishment. Throughout the years, the image of Pret A Manger as a leading sandwich retail store is unblemished to this very day.
The brand Pret A Manger continues to flourish and to supply stable work opportunities in these economically disturbing times. In 1992, six short years after the first store in Victoria was opened, three more shops were opened and the brand continues to grow.
The sandwich store Pret a Manger was followed by Itsu, a sushi bar which is renowned in London and the United Kingdom. Ten years after the Itsu was launched, there are more than a dozen Itsu stores established both in New York, United States, and London.
Though the brand hit a standstill when they were forced to recall and to call their stores in Japan as losses, even the founders acknowledged that the speed with which they have expanded were too fast for development. Instead of producing service and products which were supposed to be unrivaled anywhere else, the company was intent on building more and more shops in different locations. Because of this, the plan backfired, and they have to gather their remaining assets and convert them to other sources of income.
It is also worth mentioning that there are those who believe that once a business has entered the mainstream of the business industry, which is in Manhattan, New York, then that company would be labeled as one in the 'big league'. By having branches in Manhattan, Pret was able to demonstrate to the world its power as a big player in the sandwich industry.
Pret asserts itself as having its own attitude and outlook, as well as image for all consumers. Most of Pret's customers are familiar with the Pret attitude, which is an environment friendly service coupled with enthusiastic, over-eager staff. Its identity as a healthy-food provider exceeds all expectations as it obviously embodies this ideal in everyday standards. The food are created fresh daily, all excess would be given to the homeless, and even the packaging is made up of recycled cardboard paper. There are no preservatives at all: only fresh, pure food to be enjoyed by those who enjoy healthy lifestyles.
This nature-loving attitude is also emphasized in Pret A Manger's website. Its Sustainability tab mentions how the company aims to provide clean, healthy food for all customers so that all might get the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Even their delivery cabs conserve energy in the form of using green energy sources during delivery. In-house recycling is highly encouraged, and once a customer walks into the store, he or she will immediately understand what the Pret's commitment to nature is all about.
Like other major companies, Pret has embraced technology and utilized it for their own advancement. Such is the blessing of e-HRM, which enables workers to produce more output in lesser time. With Pret, they have used technology to keep track of their in-house resources, stocks, list of groceries to buy, and other things. The company uses it to check their employee resources, delegations, tasks, and leaves. They log into a system from any Pret store branch, and can check their leave credits, file leaves and offsets, and other personal details.
Though Pret's unyielding commitment to preserving nature goes untarnished, the company is not free of intrigue. There was an incident wherein a former KGB agent was poisoned while dining in an Itsu Restaurant. The branch at Picadilly, London, had to be closed, yet autopsy report and other investigations have proven that the source of poison was not in the store, and the agent contacted the poison before entering the restaurant.
Aside from this incident, there are also other reports wherein people filed cases against the sandwich empire, as is inevitable in a popular brand. Yet Pret has faced each one of them, and has managed to keep its slate clear of any negative connotations about the brand.
There is no ethical discrimination and other ethical dilemmas involved in Pret A Manger. It is an honest store which aims to provide quality service, and accepts applicants of all people of all races. This as much is mentioned in the portfolio of Pret A Manger, as they welcome applicants from all people, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, color of their skins, genders, and other factors.
3.2 Business Analysis - SWOT Analysis
Figure 1 Pret A Manger SWOT Analysis
The figure below would determine Pret A Manger's SWOT analysis:
Â· Established name - there are many Pret A Manger stores throughout the United Kingdom. Along with Itsu, these stores are visible, and easily accessible to all potential customers. Also, Pret has twenty-four years of experience as a famed sandwich maker. Their name is synonymous to healthy sandwiches, and they have also established themselves as a major contributor in the sandwich market.
Â· Many loyal followers - there are thousands of loyal customers who rely on Pret to feed them during breaks and snacks. Since they can get food in a speedy manner, most business people would prefer to eat at Pret's.
Â· Aim to be a healthy food chain is unique and is attractive to many people - in this golden era of lifestyle awareness, most people are investing in their health. Due to this, Pret's healthy and environment-friendly approach to service is greatly embraced by the people.
Â· Too many stores sharing the same items - since each store would individually prepare its sandwiches and products for the day, there are instances wherein what a customer might want may not be available in the store. Since there are too many stores sharing the same items, each store lost its unique characteristics to entice new customers.
Â· Some would say that the prices are too high for a sandwich - customers have said that they would prefer if the sandwiches are made cheaper. Then again, with the quality of service, as well as the health benefits given by the store, it is no wonder that the prices are high.
Â· Expansion plans in other countries - by placing Pret in mainstream competition, the world would be able to understand that Pret is a brand that is clamoring to be known. The quality of their sandwiches and products would precede them.
Â· Since there are many followers, it would be easier to know what consumers want, and how to retain these wants to keep the customers loyal to Pret.
Â· By entering the mainstream competition in New York and other countries, Pret A Manger has established its force. However, it is open for comparison to other prestigious brands, such as Subway Sandwiches, which are rampant in the United States. Though Pret has twenty stores in Manhattan alone, Subway has dominated the sandwich scheme in the United States, and is available in all states for the customers.
Chapter 4 - Conclusion and Recommendation
As was clearly portrayed in this paper, Pret A Manger is an established, reputable company with many followers throughout the world. Its brand of loving nature and providing healthy food to all consumers makes is stand out in this world wherein fast food is in demand. Pret is able to provide speedy service, without the saturated fat, and cholesterol served by other organizations.
Pret's strengths could be said to lie in this image and identity. Since people are already sold to the idea of perfect sandwiches which are healthy and delectable, more and more consumers are lining up at Pret stores. Furthermore, since the brand is using recycled paper, and is supporting charities and the poor by providing them with food, and recycling, those who are nature buffs and who feel a deep sense of environmentalism would flock to the stores.
The author strongly believes that the threats faced by Pret A Manger could be handled well, since it was already proven before that the company could continue with its production despite losses, as was the case when they lost huge investments in Japan. However, since people at the store were complaining of the prices, there must be a better alternative to selling the sandwiches without lowering the quality.
The author recommends that the store conduct sales and other promos in order to entice new customers to try their products. Since it is also a misconception that all Pret products are expensive, they should be able to bring about new customers by showing them that each product is accurately priced. Once new customers would see how much effort, patience, and top quality materials were used in order to give them their orders, they would realize that the prices, once one compares them to other sandwich stores, are not ridiculously expensive.
Lastly, throughout the company analysis, it was established how much people appreciate Pret A Manger, as was evident by the number of stores which were made in order to cater to the needs of all citizens. Having Pret littered around the country and the world makes it accessible for all consumers and customers. Once Pret is able to entice new customers, and convince them that their prices are not extravagant, then the author strongly believes that Pret would be able to trump the competition which is in Subway sandwiches. Pret would be able to claim the number one spot as the most dominant contributor in the sandwich market.