Pret A Manger has used the pandemic to develop the brand’s convenience factor, with data from its newly developed digital channels helping to inform decisions on products and property strategy.

Clare Clough, UK managing director, told MCA’s Food to Go conference earlier this week, that although its shops would remain at the heart of its business but they would be used to enable customers to interact with it in different ways.

A great example, she said was delivery which was only a tiny part of the business pre-Covid and “it wasn’t something we’d really embedded into the shop operating model and put any energy behind but now for many of our shops it’s a really big part of their business.”

She cited the Tooting branch, in south London, where delivery sales accounted for almost 50% because of the big residential catchment. It was an example of how delivery and in-shop business could work in harmony.

Clough said click and collect was another opportunity for those who, for example, might want to order breakfast on their morning commute, knowing they could just walk in and grab and go.

“We’ve always had speed and convenience at the heart of our business. This is, I guess, taking it to the next level.”

Pret’s Baristas subscription service was another development that came out of the pandemic. Clough said this was “a real step forward” on the digital journey and enabled the business to learn more about customers’ behaviour as individuals or as a cohort. This would help inform the kind of products they would see and help understand some of the locations where Pret might want to open shops.

Subscribers get perks, such as a free cookie and it is looking at how it might introduce more afternoon treats.

The changes made by the business have also been part of a change in its thinking from “putting Pret where the people are” to “taking Pret to the people”. Clough said it was a subtle shift but a recognition that the business had to adapt to the changes that the first lockdown set in train, and which has seen it develop into an omnichannel brand.

Clough added that Pret was looking at how it could expand its offering for different times of day and in addition was further developing its retail offering with the likes of Amazon, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado.

To view the full interview with Clare Clough, or to watch any of the sessions you missed, click here.