UPDATE: 8th September 2016
A few months back I visited the then newly opened Vegetarian Pret Pop-Up store by Pret a Manger. At the time it was not designed as a permanent offer, but in our blog (see below) we said that we “could see this offer potentially working, particularly in areas or developments where Pret have multiple stores and landlords are looking at improving the diversity and Tenant mix or creating a point of difference.” Since then, in only two months, the overwhelming success of the Pop-Up in SoHo has convinced Pret to not only keep the first store as a Veggie Pret permanently, but to open several other units across the UK.
This is another sign that being a “Veggie” is not a trend – it is a market movement. According to the first Veggie Pret store, 50% of their customers are regular meat eaters, the rise in flexitarianism along with true vegetarians and vegans means that there is a large chunk of the population that will easily dismiss any restaurant or foodservice cluster that is not veggie friendly.
So the question for operators is “how much veg makes you a veggie friendly restaurant?” and for Landlords – does your Tenant mix contain enough operators with broad enough menus to provide something for everyone in our ever changing world.
Last Summer, after noticing that their vegetarian salad was the top seller amongst the “SuperBowl” salad range (which included both chicken and fish options), Pret asked on their website whether customers would like them to open a pure Vegetarian store. An impressive 44% of respondents said yes while a further 52% opted for a Vegetarian specific fridge in their stores. This month the brand are trialling a pure Vegetarian Pop Up store in Soho, we dropped in to see what the differences were.
The company has created 45 new recipes for the store including sandwiches such as open faced rye bread tartines with avocado and egg and veggie sushi. They have even included veggie hummus pots and falafel & halloumi hot wraps. All dishes are either vegan or vegetarian, all are well presented and all of these are priced around the £4.50 mark, in line with the regular store pricing. The new open faced sandwiches also offer a “lunch with less carbs”.
One of the key goals of the pop up was to help come up with and test a strong new vegetarian product range and they are using customer voting, both in-store and on social media to gather as much feedback as possible.
In addition to the big bold green sign outside, everything that is usually red, is now green. From, the furniture and marketing material, to the single use cutlery.
We waited a week before visiting as we wanted to give the pop up a chance to “bed in”, and when we visited I took the chance to ask staff how things were going, we were told the first week was incredibly busy. At the time of our visit, lunch time in Soho, the unit was very busy and everyone was discussing this new range and image.
The reason for all of this is that Pret have long recognised the growth in ‘meat free’ products, which was worth £625million in the UK in 2013 and grew to £657million in 2014.
With the health benefits and the ethical and ecological impact of eating meat coming ever more under the microscope, this is a trend that we only see increasing. Although this has not been designed as a permanent offer, we could see this offer potentially working, particularly in areas or developments where Pret have multiple stores and landlords are looking at improving the diversity and Tenant mix or creating a point of difference. Food for thought I hope you agree.