Pret a Manger reopened its doors in May, but it’s still searching for ways to keep its business afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In September, Pret a Manger announced that it would be debuting a new subscription service, called Pret’s YourPret Barista that would allow customers in the UK to receive as many as five barista drinks per day for $26.60 (£20) each month.
The coffee subscription idea originated from Panera Bread. Pret A Manger and Panera are both owned by JAB Holding, and according to The New York Times, the CEOs of JAB Holding companies have a WhatsApp chat to discuss ideas.
“I don’t think customers should help Pret. I think it’s down to Pret to figure out what it does and how it evolves,” Pano Christou, Chief Executive of the company, said, according to The Times.
“Pret have been very, very late adapters to this,” Christou said. “Pret’s been run over the last 30 years with gut feel and intuition, and we haven’t done that badly, but I think the richness of data today gives you an opportunity to learn much more about your customers.”
The UK-based coffee chain that’s been in business for 37 years has laid off 2,800 employees this year, equating to one-third of its staff. Many of the company’s workers have seen their hours reduced from 35-hour contracts to working just 28 hours per week as a result of its declining sales figures.
Pret a Manger’s weekly sales in Britain reached just $7.1 million (5.5 million pounds) in August, according to The Times. That’s only a slightly higher number than its weekly sales total in August 2010 when roughly 150 fewer stores were on the streets. Today, Pret a Manger has permanently shut down 30 stores.
The chain seeks to boost its digital platform and increase sales since the coronavirus has kept a fair amount of its consumer base, who are largely located in urban settings and include commuters en route to financial districts, at home for quite some time.
Pret a Manger has gone as far as even selling its coffee beans on Amazon, per The Times, and it now wants its food sold in supermarkets. Additionally, it’s signed up for many food delivery platforms across London so that its food products can reach customers who previously made routine stops at the coffee shop.
Pret a Manger’s base isn’t solely located across Western Europe. It also operates in US markets such as New York and even spans out to Hong Kong despite having 300 of its 533 stores operating in the UK. This total includes over 40 million customers in the US alone, according to The Times.
Pret’s YourPret Barista operates on both Apple and Google digital wallets, as well as QR codes, that are free for individual subscribers in the first month and sent to consumers in an email. The catch about this subscription service, however, is that patrons must wait 30 minutes between each order.
The company is reportedly still getting some help from the British government’s furlough program, but that’s coming to a close at the end of October.
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