Twelve weeks ago, we opened Veggie Pret as a month-long pop up in Soho. We were so overwhelmed by the public response that we kept it open for the Summer. I can now tell you that we’ve taken the decision to keep it open for ever(!) And, if we can, to open more Veggie Pret shops in the future.
The reason is simple: we had expected sales in the shop to decline as a result of the pop up. After the massive hype of the first few weeks, sales at Veggie Pret are still well up on where they were before the conversion. It started out as an experiment in response to customer feedback and our customers have spoken loud and clear, so Veggie Pret is here to stay.
What is it about the shop that has struck such a chord? Clearly, the move towards a plant-based diet is gathering momentum, especially among millennials. Vegetarians and vegans are an articulate and social media-savvy group. Many of you have been advocating eating less meat for years and have been thrilled to see a major UK business take up the cause. We have had over 20,000 customer comments in the past twelve weeks and many of you have offered heartfelt thanks to Pret for making a bold move. Even Sir Paul McCartney emailed.
Pret’s goal is to encourage meat eaters to try more veggie food by making sure it looks and tastes better. I know from experience in cooking at home that this isn’t easy. Our chefs seem to be getting it right because anecdotally over 50% of customers at Veggie Pret say they are regular meat eaters. Our early insights remain true - vegan dishes and sweet treats are the biggest-sellers and the Cacao & Orange Pot has sold ten times the number we’d predicted!
We are now debating where to open the second Veggie Pret. The odds are that it will be a visible corner in the City of London, where we can convert an existing shop to a pop up and see if it resonates with city workers before deciding whether or not to make it permanent. I hope we can bring Veggie Pret to more cities in due course. (I have just been told about a well subscribed petition to convert one of our two shops in Cambridge to Veggie.)
We hope to open the second Veggie Pret before the end of this year and our Chefs are busily working to add some of the best-sellers to more Pret shops next year. The journey from a customer vote to a pop up and now to a permanent shop could not have happened without the enthusiasm and involvement of our customers – thank you for your support.