Meatless meals may have found a new home. Pret A Manger (nicknamed Pret), a British coffee and sandwich chain, recently trialed a vegetarian version of its store. Dubbed Veggie Pret, it took over a traditional Pret in central London for four weeks to test the idea’s popularity.
The store was redesigned and given a new, green façade. Forty-five new vegetarian options were created by Pret’s chefs, and most whimsically, the trees outside the store were given orange wraps to make them appear as carrots springing from the concrete ground.
Veggie Pret has been a smashing success. Officials originally expected sales at the Broadwick Street location to drop 30 percent, but over three short weeks they have already increased by 70 percent.
Pret’s CEO, Clive Schlee, wrote an update on Veggie Pret for Pret A Manger’s blog. In it, he expressed his surprise at the store’s popularity: “This is the first time I have seen customers in London sitting on the floor to eat their lunch.”
The shop’s top-selling items, surprisingly, are all vegan items. Whether that be from increasing numbers of vegans or simply the tastiness of the vegan options, the success of these dishes accomplishes one of the original goals of Veggie Pret, according to Schlee: to “ask our customers what they would like to see end up on Pret’s shelves permanently.”
Originally, the pop-up shop was slated to close after a few weeks, but Schlee says the surprising success of the store has led to a “big internal debate” over the future of Veggie Pret. There are even some that want to make every fourth Pret a Veggie Pret, and to explore other markets. In an increasingly saturated market, perhaps Veggie Pret is how the British chain can differentiate itself.