New Eat boss pledges ‘business as usual’ ahead of Pret conversions

The new boss of Eat has said the next year will be “business as usual” while the high street food chain prepares to be gobbled up by rival Pret a Manger.

Mike Rainer has been appointed managing director of the chain, succeeding chief executive Andrew Walker, who has left to pursue other interests.

Speaking to PA, Mr Rainer said he would use his new role to work with staff on keeping Eat running as an independent brand until its sites are converted into Pret outlets.

“I’ve got a good track record of being quite honest and open with the people and the teams,” he said “The next year is going to be about keeping them engaged.”

Mr Rainer’s appointment, announced on Wednesday, comes three months after Pret agreed to acquire Eat and said it would turn as many branches as possible into Veggie Pret outlets.

The conversion plans are still at an early stage, Mr Rainer said, and will take at least a year, with Eat branches trading as normal in the meantime.

While some stores could close, Mr Rainer said the majority of staff will either be transferred across to Pret when their shops are converted, or redeployed to other sites.

Part of the transition could also involve adding the best Eat recipes to Pret’s menu.

Mr Rainer said: “We’ve had lots of feedback and customer comment around that. It is one thing we’re looking at, and it’s something that Pret recognises that our hot food in particular is ahead of theirs both in terms of quality and standards. They are considering keeping some of our recipes.”

He added that customers might even be consulted on the process through a “Save Your Fave” campaign.

Mr Rainer, who was previously Eat’s finance boss, has also worked for retailers such as Jaeger and Mothercare.

Commenting on the future of the high street, he said: “I’ve been in retail for over 20 years; it’s a game of winners and losers.

“If you’ve got a fantastic product and you deliver for your customers with great service and people, you will always succeed. When you lose that, it gets very hard.”

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