Pret a Manger serves up a recipe for success and growth

I love Pret a Manger!

This sandwich chain started from humble beginnings in London in 1986. The two young founders of what is now affectionately known as “Pret” had a simple promise – to serve delicious food, served by friendly motivated people.

And, now, 32 years on, Pret has expanded to 486 stores in 8 countries.

So, what is the root cause of Pret’s success in the crowded “fast food” market?

In a nutshell, Pret has focused on standing out in the market by delivering on its promise. It has succeeded by consistently focusing on delivering a great branded customer experience.

Companies deliver on the branded customer experience when there is an alignment between the brand expectations that marketing departments create with the delivery on those expectations to customers.

The branded customer experience is delivered when the customer experience delivers on the brand promise.

How does Pret deliver on its promise?

They know how to make customers feel good.  And they know how to make their people feel good.

More Than Just Sandwiches

The current version of the Pret promise, which is an evolution of the promise of the two young founders, revolves around the three key pillars – “Freshly Prepared”, “Good”, “Natural Foods”.

I associate the word “good” with Pret.

I feel good when I go into a Pret shop. There is a wide choice of fresh food on display. I know that I will be feeding my body good food. I buy organic coffee. That’s good. Pret does good things. Donations, based on sales, are made to charities. The company’s branded customer experience resonates in the physical shop environment. There are beautifully designed signs and pictures on the walls with words that remind me that I am doing the good things for my body:

  • “Freshly prepared, good food”
  • “Pret’s spiced pumpkin latter (made with real pumpkin)”
  • “Organic coffee, natural food”
  • “Handmade natural food…”
  • And more, down to the packaging, complete with reinforcing messages, all very tastefully designed.

So as a customer, I feel good coming in into the store, and knowing that I’m paying for good, healthy food and that my money will be used for good things.

Pret People Practices

How does the company make its people feel good?

Pret has a strong focus on doing good for employees. Its aim is to hire and engage passionate, motivated people who are happy to serve customers.

Therefore, it places a lot of effort on culture. It understands that products can be copied, but great company culture is bullet-proof.

The company has stated that its aim is to have people feel good when they come to work. This is important, as working in a Pret environment, making fresh sandwiches from 5am in the morning, serving hordes of hungry customers, is a high-pressure job.

Each Pret outlet is mystery shopped weekly. Mystery shopping is used as a reward mechanism. If the mystery shopper has a good experience, team members get an extra £1 an hour for the hours they have worked for the week. The company reports that that 80% of its shops get the bonus every week. Not bad at all!

In short, Pret has created a wide range of methods to build its branded service culture.

So, what can we learn from Pret a Manger?

Building company brands is just half the story.

The other half is following through to make sure that your company delivers on the branded customer experience through your people, product, environment and processes.

Companies that seem to “make it look easy” have created a branded culture, where decisions and behaviours at all levels are made with a direct line of sight to the delivering on the brand promise.

My parting question to you: What is your company doing to show your customers and your people that you are delivering on your brand promise?

(Good) Food for thought.

Until next time.


George Aveling is the Australian-born CEO of TMI Malaysia (, a global customer-experience transformation consultancy. He is CEO of two sister companies, TACK International Malaysia, a global leadership and sales training company, and Elementrix, an award-winning digital learning consultancy. TMI and TACK have offices in 45 countries of the world. Between these companies, there is an unparalleled range of intellectual property to improve individual, team and company performance. If you would like to contact George direct, feel free to email him at

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