The Pret A Manger all-natural foods chain has agreed to buy the Eat group of vegetarian restaurants in the United Kingdom with the stated intention of converting outlets to Pret’s fledgling Veggie Pret concept.
Few details of the deal were disclosed by Pret A Manager’s owner, JAB Holding Co., which is also the parent of Panera Bread and eight other U.S. restaurant chains. But Pret CEO Clive Schlee said in a statement that the arrangement should “turbo charge” expansion of Veggie Pret, which was founded two years ago in the U.K. to serve growing demand for so-called plant-forward fare. Four Veggie Prets are currently open. The announcement did not reveal how many Eat restaurants are currently in operation.
“The purpose of this deal is to serve the growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers,” Schlee said in a statement. He added that Pret intended to put “significant resources” behind Veggie Pret.
He did not disclose Pret’s plans for expanding Veggie Pret into the United States, where the plant-forward wave is rapidly remaking the menus of mainstream quick-service brands, from Burger King to Red Robin.
Several concepts riding that trend, including Zoes Kitchen and Life Alive Organic Cafe, are backed by former Panera Chairman Ron Shaich, who sold the brand to JAB in 2017 for $7.5 billion.