Healthy eating chain Pure has acquired its first site with Transport for London (Tfl), in what it hopes will be the first of many, director of Pure, Spencer Craig told MCA.

Craig said the TfL site, which he could not yet disclose the location of, is due to open in September, and that it marked the start of “a key strategic partnership” for the operator over the next few years.

He said the TfL opening was likely to be its last of 2019 and that it was well into its pipeline plans for 2020. Next year could see anything from five to eight new sites opening, depending on their scale, he added.

The business is due to open its 21st site at Liverpool Street Station on Monday (15 July) – its sixth opening in what he described as “a fairly breathless eight months”. Recent openings have included Kingdom Street in Paddington, Tooley Street by London Bridge and Hammersmith Broadway.

“It has been our aim for a number of years to get into stations, and it remains a big focus,” said Craig, adding that it would love to expand into airport locations as well.

He explained that while Pure was still very much in the market for high street locations, with major deals such as the recent acquisition of EAT and Pod, the food to go market is set to change quite significantly over the next 12 months, so it was a bit more about waiting and seeing how the market plays out. “Rents need to come down. We are ready to open shops on the high street as long as landlords get more realistic about what the rents should be,” he added.

The company has been trading strongly in the year-to-date, he said, with total sales up about 35% year-on-year and like-for-likes in “high single digit growth”. “We have had a brilliant year. We are excited as we ever have been about what lies ahead for us,” said Craig.

Breakfast is its standout day-part, particularly within travel hubs. It recently introduced a rolled omelette, which can be eaten on the go, as part of its spring menu, adding a second variant for the summer. “As all the trends around having breakfast on the move continue to go in our favour we are very excited about that continue growth at breakfast,” he said.

On its working relationship with Whitbread, which took a 49% minority stake in the business for £6.8m in 2016, Craig said it remained unchanged, and it was carrying on with its strategy with them. At the time Whitbread took a stake it was announced that there was an option for it to acquire the remaining 51% at any point within the next five years.

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