Pret a Manger Porridge

Pret A Manger boosted by sales of 50,000 porridge pots a week

Pret a Manger, the popular upper-end UK sandwich chain has announced 37% profit increase, partly on the back of an increased demand for a humble breakfast cereal.

FOR YEARS IT has been a distant reminder of Britain’s austere past and of the days before fancy cereals and continental breakfasts. But it seems that the humble bowl of porridge is helping us fend off cold weather and the looming threat of a double-dip recession.

Britons have turned in their droves to a comfort breakfast of porridge, and sandwich chain Pret A Manger has announced that it is selling 50,000 bowls of the stuff every week.

Drizzled with a “luscious fruits of the forest compote”, the £1.99 pots of slow-cooked jumbo oats don’t sound like the product of austerity Britain to rank with rationing or the three-day week but Pret nevertheless believes that the offer launched a year ago chimes with straitened times.

“Porridge is an affordable product, and a product of the economic times we are living in,” a spokesman said.

The cold weather of recent winters has boosted overall sales of porridge oats in Britain but there may also be other factors at work. Porridge is renowned as a healthy breakfast option without the sugars that are present in other cereals. It is high in fibre and protein and can help people to lose weight because it is digested slowly. It also helps lower cholesterol.

The 300g pots have helped push Pret’s sales up by 17% to £328m, and profits up by 37% to £46m. Pret’s 4,000 staff are collecting £2,000 bonuses each on the back of the strong performance, the company said. Opened in London in 1986, the company was temporarily part-owned by McDonald’s, but is now majority owned by private equity group Bridgepoint, who bought a stake in February 2008 which valued the group at £345m, including debt. Management are also investors in the business.

Pret said it intended to set up 30 new shops around the world in the coming year, creating 700 new jobs, 500 of which will be in the UK. Separately, rival Eat has announced that private equity group Lyceum Capital had bought a stake. The company would not say how big the investment was, but did say that it would help support “a significant store roll-out and brand development programme.”

Eat currently has 110 stores, and is planning to double in size in the UK over the next few years, as well as pursuing international growth.

Source: The Guardian