Coffee chain hopes YourPret Barista will help sales after sluggish return from Covid lockdown
Pret a Manger is to launch a monthly subscription service offering up to five drinks a day in a bid to get customers back to stores following a sales slump due to the pandemic.
The chain, which last week cut almost 2,900 employees as UK high streets remain mostly deserted, is launching the YourPret Barista service. It will allow customers to buy up to five drinks a day for a month on a £20 subscription.
The offer, which could add up to 150 drinks a month, will cover all barista-made coffees as well as teas, hot chocolates, smoothies and frappe drinks.
The chain said the subscription, which will launch next Tuesday, will be free to subscribers for the first month.
“There’s no doubt that workers will come into the office less often than beforehand,” said Pano Christou, the chief executive at Pret. “Pret needs to adapt itself to the changes of customer patterns and that’s where we’ve been very focused.”
The group reopened 367 of its 410 UK shops last month but UK sales remain about 50% lower than last year, leading to the expansion of a programme of cuts that was previously expected to affect 1,000 people, with 30 branches due to close.
In London, where Pret makes most of its profits, sales are 60% down year-on-year. The company said sales had grown 7% each week since the end of July. On Thursday, rival Costa Coffee said it was cutting 1,650 jobs due to the challenging trading conditions.
Christou said coffee sales had grown faster than food sales since the company has reopened stores.
Briony Raven, Pret’s director of coffee and packaging, said the scheme aimed to make Pret the first choice for coffee buyers, the same way people subscribe to services such as Netflix.
“It’s Pret’s way of doing loyalty,” she said. “It’s about giving people an easy choice when they come back into their everyday routine.”
To prevent subscribers abusing the scheme by getting in a round of drinks for friends, each of the five daily drinks can only be collected 30 minutes apart.
“This is just our first step in our plan to bring Pret to more people,” Christou said. “We now have the building blocks to establish Pret as a multi-channel, digitally led business. And YourPret Barista is the first big launch we’re able to deliver through our new technology platform.”
Christou said Pret had been too reliant on London – the company is closing 28 of its 300 stores in the capital – and plans to open more suburban branches. “We haven’t done a great job in marketing Pret outside of London,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
The company has also opened its first “dark kitchen” for delivery only and is developing a hot dinner menu targeting customers at home. It plans to open between five and 10 sites that will produce food for delivery by firms such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.
The company, which was bought by Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings in 2018, is launching its own branded coffee in Waitrose and Ocado from next month. It also sells a range of coffee beans and ground coffee on Amazon.