Is Pret A Manger a Franchise?

02/11/2018 18:00 | Food franchises

pret a manger franchise

Pret A Manger is one of the UK’s leading high street retailers and an always-popular lunchtime option for those who value fresh, high quality produce and who appreciate a business with a conscience. This has made them an exciting business venture that many would like to invest in. With this in mind, we decided to establish whether Pret A Manger is a franchise or whether it’s achieved its staggering success by other means.

Who is Pret A Manger?

Pret A Manger was established in 1983 and opened its first store in Hampstead, London, in 1984. At the time, it specialised in fresh foods and natural ingredients – an ethos that has continued into the present day. However, the original Pret A Manger struggled financially and was soon put into liquidation, where the name and branding were purchased by two young businessmen, Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe.

‘Pret A Manger’ translates as ‘ready-to-eat’ and this name has informed everything that the modern incarnation of the store set out to achieve. Initially focusing solely on the London market, Pret A Manger opened their first store outside of the capital in 2000. The store was located on Broad Street, New York and marked the beginning of a concerted effort to grow across several key markets.

The first French store was launched in 2012 (the chain now has around 19 restaurants in France), and other locations have been developed in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Germany. Though the company has focused on achieving slow but stable growth, it is now considered a truly global brand and boasts a presence in some of the world’s biggest economies.

Is Pret A Manger a franchise?

The short answer is that Pret A Manger is not a franchise. It has never offered franchising opportunities in the UK and has repeatedly expressed its intention to continue trading as a privately owned organisation for the foreseeable future.

The business receives numerous enquiries relating to its status and generally responds to them by explaining how they’re comfortable with their existing business model. Though it may mean slower growth, it allows them to retain complete control over their stores and doesn’t seem to have significantly hampered their expansion so far. While the business maintains a franchise enquiry section on their website, they have yet to open a franchise in any UK market.

Pret A Manger franchise UK

Pret A Manger boasts more than 530 stores spread over nine countries. Approximately 350 of these are UK-based. The London market is responsible for around 67% of the company's trade, and it is also where the brand first made its mark. In the capital city, Pret A Manger is often considered a healthier, quirkier, and more ethical alternative to other ‘coffee and sandwich’ quick service restaurants, such as Starbucks.

The business has worked hard to foster this perception, establishing a relatively strict recruitment process that focuses heavily on how employees project positivity and communicate their ‘presence.’ In many locations, all of the sandwiches that are not sold are given to local homeless people at the end of the day.

Pret A Manger franchise cost

As Pret A Manger offer no franchising opportunities in the UK, it is impossible to estimate how much a franchise would cost an interested investor. However, there are some figures available that detail the cost of outfitting a Pret A Manger store and preparing it for business. A rough estimate puts the cost of opening each new store at approximately £400,000. Pret A Manger has also previously stated that they need to raise around £1.5 million to finance the opening of three new stores.

On outfitting alone, this would put Pret A Manger up there with some of the more expensive quick service franchises on the market. For instance, a Subway franchise costs roughly £200,000. While Pret A Manger is a substantially different type of business, it appears that they would have to lower their startup costs if they were to attract franchisee investors.

The exception to the rule

As with most rules, there is one exception to Pret A Manger’s ‘no franchising’ policy. In the US, the business has signed a franchise agreement that will see two stores open on university campuses. The first will be situated at the University of Pennsylvania, while the other will be opened at the University of Chicago. The fresh food and healthy ethos is thought to be ideally suited to US university campuses and makes for an exciting opportunity to experiment with alternative means of expansion. However, these are the only two cases of Pret A Manger franchising that are currently known of.

Alternatives to Pret A Manger

If you’ve always wanted to own a Pret A Manger store and are disappointed to find out that the company doe not offer franchise opportunities, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of other similar franchises. Here, we take a look at a few of the most popular alternatives.


Quiznos offers an excellent franchise package at a relatively low price and is quickly becoming a popular franchise among those looking to launch a sandwich-based business. Costing around £200,000, each Quiznos franchise receives ample support throughout the early stages of the business launch, and all franchisees are enrolled on one of the most comprehensive training programmes in the industry.

Bagel Corner

Bagel Corner takes the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector in a slightly different direction and centres its offerings around healthy and wholesome bagels. With a unique digital ordering system that allows for quick order and pick-up, they're one of the most innovative franchises around. Setting up a Bagel Corner franchise will cost you approximately £500,000.

Wrap It Up!

Our final alternative to Pret A Manger is Wrap It Up! – a trendy QSR franchise that offers an incredible array of world foods all contained within a hearty and wholesome wrap. The franchise benefits from a lively and eye-catching aesthetic and appeals to a younger clientele who are interested in more exotic, world dishes. The total investment required to start a franchise unit is set at around £120,000.

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