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Challenges Expected for Return-to-Office Mandates, Predicts Pret A Manger Boss

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Pret A Manger's Strategic Shift Amid Changing Work Habits

Pret A Manger, known for its presence in major cities catering to office workers, is adapting its business model in response to the changing work landscape. With more people working remotely, Pret is expanding its reach beyond city centers and focusing on market towns, airports, and motorway service stations. The strategic shift aims to capture customers like Jade Voice, who appreciates the convenience of a Pret A Manger store in her suburban area. However, the return-to-office mandates enforced by some companies pose a challenge to Pret's new strategy.

A New Growth Strategy

Pret A Manger's fastest-growing stores are now located in Yorkshire, suburbs, and London airports, with fewer new stores opening in central London. The chain, owned by JAB Holdings, sees potential for further expansion, aiming to reach up to 1,500 stores in the UK alone. The shift away from city centers is a calculated risk, as remote working policies evolve and companies encourage employees to return to the office.

Navigating the Work-From-Home Trend

Pret A Manger's CEO, Pano Christou, believes that the work-from-home trend is here to stay, with most people only spending three days a week in the office. This perspective drives the company's adjustment to cater to the changing habits of its customer base. However, the Pret Index, which tracks weekly transactions, reveals that some locations, such as Washington DC, still experience reduced foot traffic due to government workers continuing to work remotely.
Club Pret Loyalty Plan and Rising Prices
To encourage customer visits, Pret A Manger introduced the Club Pret loyalty plan, offering discounts and perks. However, rising prices pose a challenge for customers. The chain has experienced price increases on popular items due to factors such as energy costs, higher wages, and increased raw material expenses. Despite the price hikes, Pret reported its first operating profit in five years, indicating customer acceptance of the new pricing. In conclusion, Pret A Manger's strategic shift reflects the changing landscape of work habits. Adapting to remote working trends, the chain is expanding beyond city centers to capture customers in suburban areas and transportation hubs. The success of this strategy will depend on the long-term viability of remote work and customers' willingness to accept higher prices.

Hot Take: The Impact of Changing Work Habits on New Business Ventures

The strategic shift of Pret A Manger, a prominent city-based chain, has significant implications for new businesses. As more people embrace remote work, businesses that traditionally catered to office workers are forced to rethink their strategies. Pret's move to expand beyond city centers into suburbs, market towns, airports, and service stations could be a blueprint for new businesses looking to capture a broader customer base.

Adapting to New Market Realities

New businesses must be agile and adaptable to evolving market trends. The shift away from city centers, while risky, could open up new opportunities in less saturated markets. However, this strategy's success hinges on the continued prevalence of remote work, which could be threatened by companies enforcing return-to-office mandates.

Customer Loyalty and Pricing Challenges

In an era of rising costs and economic uncertainty, customer loyalty is more crucial than ever. Pret's introduction of the Club Pret loyalty plan is a strategic move to retain customers despite price hikes. New businesses must similarly prioritize customer retention strategies while also navigating the challenge of maintaining competitive pricing in the face of rising costs. In conclusion, Pret A Manger's strategic shift offers valuable insights for new businesses. Navigating the changing work landscape requires adaptability, strategic expansion, and a strong focus on customer loyalty. However, the viability of such strategies will depend on the persistence of remote work trends and customers' tolerance for higher prices.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/pret-a-manger-boss-bets-return-to-office-mandates-will-struggle
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