How Pret À Manger Has Sustained 10 Percent Annual Revenue Growth For A Decade
CFO Adam Jones credits a non-traditional marketing approach and bold initiatives — like the launch of vegetarian-only Veggie Pret in 2016.
Pret à Manger launched the first iteration of its standalone vegetarian restaurant, Veggie Pret, in June 2016 after observing double digit sales increase in vegetarian options in 2015 and listening to customer feedback — and it’s bold concept and product launches like this that have allowed the chain to maintain 10 percent overall revenue growth per year, said CFO Adam Jones.
“We are constantly listening, refining, and changing,” according to what customers want, Jones told GeoMarketing following a presentation at London’s Retail Week Live. “For example, our [new] brownie bar concept is on something like revision 35. It’s breathtaking to watch, and that’s the heart of what we do.”
The other central tenet of the Pret concept is a non-traditional approach to marketing, which is creatively led in-house with an ad budget primarily dedicated to in-store campaigns, social media interaction with customers, and innovation.
Jones credited the “crowd-source, innovate, launch” approach with the success seen by Veggie Pret in its first year, echoing what former marketing Mark Palmer told Marketing Week at the time of the Veggie Pret pop-up launch: “I do worry whether the marketing industry wants to truly listen or is just trying to be cool and to tick a box,” he said. “Customers will be much more engaged with your brand if you are prepared to share some of the stuff you are working on.”
So, if the key to sustained 10 percent revenue growth is simply polling customers about their favorite veggie snacks, why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s more complicated than that, of course.
““What we’ve built at Pret is very expensive and very difficult to replicate,” Jones said, explaining what he believes built the organic following that began from the time of the very first Pret location in London. “We build new kitchens in every shop. We make everything fresh [every single] day. Customers taste freshness. They might not recognize it, but they taste it.”
By moving slowly at first — the first Pret shop took four years to open — and then scaling the concept carefully in high foot traffic locations, Pret invested in its future and built a following. The key, Jones said, is to bring that attention to detail into each new property — and into every action with customers, whether in the store itself or when talking to them on social media.
Then, the company has to put its money where its mouth is: If after extensive in-store or online surveys customers show genuine interest in a new product, Pret has to invest in it. That’s how Veggie Pret came to be, and why it moved from existing as a pop-up to a permanent store location in a matter of months, with more locations likely to follow.
“Our site selection is always focused on very dense traffic areas, whether that’s tourist areas, retail environments, or near offices. We pick them very carefully,” Jones concluded. “And then it’s just a matter of rewarding and delighting your customers. That’s why we take our time.”