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Guy Meakin, UK Shops & Franchise Director at Pret A Manger.

What localised menu offering means according to Pret A Manger’s Guy Meakin

Creating tailored experiences through localised menu offerings could be the next big thing.

As inflation continues to impact every aspect of the business, many restaurants have no choice but to raise prices. Reacting to these increases coupled with continued cost of living crisis, consumer behaviour changed resulting in a decline in foot traffic and many Brits trading down.

Last February, Pret A Manger went the opposite direction, with the brand reducing prices by as much as 12%. But is this enough?

In a quick interview with Guy Meakin, UK Shops & Franchise Director at Pret A Manger, he explained that other than decreasing prices one interesting strategy they have started doing is localised menu offerings that increase their menu’s value.

Ahead of the QSR Media UK Conference & Awards, Guy shared their challenges in the previous years and how they remain competitive in an unpredictable environment.

What are some of the interesting trends you've noticed in the past year that QSR leaders should keep an eye out for?

Guy Meakin: As we continue expanding our regional footprint and opening shops up and down the UK, we’re starting to see more localised food trends emerge at Pret. While we have a core of much-loved favourites that are popular in our shops nationwide, we’re now seeing a growing demand for certain types of products in different parts of the country. For example, we recently launched our freshly baked fruit scone in around 70 Pret shops in regional UK towns, where we know customers are more likely to enjoy our food and coffee whilst dining in. Creating a tailored experience for customers is really important, and we’re proud to offer a menu that suits a huge variety of taste preferences.

We’re excited to explore more localised products and regional variations in the future. 

What has been your top challenge for the year and how did you and your brand overcome it?

We’ve made excellent progress towards transforming our business and now we’re turning up the dial on Pret’s growth, bringing the brand to more people in towns and cities across the UK and around the world. As we grow, something we’ve really focused on is evolving our model to meet the needs of our customers and ensure everyone has the same fantastic Pret experience when they visit our shops, wherever they are.

Whilst many of our London customers and those passing through airports and train stations prefer to grab and go, our shops in regional towns are often places where people like to spend time enjoying our freshly made food and organic coffee, which requires more space for seating. We’re always thinking about how we can best serve our customers, whether they’re stopping off for a coffee at a service station Pret, enjoying an afternoon snack while out shopping in town, or grabbing their favourite Pret lunch on the go at work.

How do you think QSRs could maintain their competitive advantage in a quickly changing landscape?

Our food teams work relentlessly to develop delicious, new options for each of our seasonal menu launches, including an extensive vegetarian and vegan range and products to suit all tastes and preferences – always with a Pret twist! Keeping things fresh and current is key to maintaining a competitive advantage – many customers will have their favourite sandwich or go-to coffee order, but every now and then they’ll want to try something different. There’s something for everyone at Pret, and that’s why our customers keep coming back. Now we even have our first menu designed specifically for kids, as we continue growing our family customer base across the country.

What opportunities are you looking to invest in this year?

2024 is a big year for Pret and it’s set to be our biggest year for new shop openings in the UK. Together with our franchise partners, we’ll be opening shops in lots of new and exciting locations and formats, here in the UK and further afield. We’re coming to cities and towns up and down the country to offer quality, freshly-made food to customers where they are.

You can expect to see Pret’s international expansion continue too. We’ve built strong momentum in recent months with openings in Greece and Canada, but there are plenty more untapped markets and opportunities for growth.

What specific insights do you want to leave the audience in your speaking/panel session?

After what has been a difficult few years for the industry, I would love the audience to leave feeling optimistic and excited about the food-to-go sector, and inspired to keep innovating and evolving to meet customer needs. As I see it, there are plenty of opportunities for QSRs to explore new ways of serving customers, whether they’re in the office, on their commute, working from home or simply spending time with friends and family.

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Hear more from Guy Meakin at the QSR Media Conference & Awards 2024. Click this link to know more.

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