Pret A Manger in talks to buy food-to-go rival Eat

Pret A Manger is closing on a deal to buy rival food-to-go chain Eat as part of an effort to grow its vegetarian business.

Talks between the two high street chains on a deal for the majority or all of Eat’s 94 outlets are understood to be at an advanced stage.

It is thought that Pret is considering the opportunity to turn Eat sites into Veggie Prets, as it looks to cash in on consumer demand for more plant-based lunch options.

Pret A Manger launched its veggie arm in Soho in 2016, and has four outlets, with three in London and one in Manchester.

Eat was purchased by private equity firm Horizon Capital in 2011, but the firm, which aimed to expand Eat’s store count to 300, began a sale process earlier this year following a period of falling sales and deepening losses.

Horizon hired corporate finance firm Spayne Lindsay to find a buyer in February.

Eat slumped to a £17.2 million loss in the last financial year, blaming tough high street trading conditions, as sales fell 4% to £94.9 million.

Pret A Manger is also under private equity ownership, having been purchased by Krispy Kreme owner JAB Holdings for £1.5 billion in May 2018.

Eat is currently led by chief executive Andrew Walker, who was Pret’s UK boss for almost five years, before leaving the firm in 2012.

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