Pret A Manger, the Bridgepoint-backed group, has begun the rollout of its “Evenings” format to a select number of sites in central London, MCA has learnt.

Chief executive Clive Schlee said the group had tweaked the format, which was launched last year at its site on The Strand and offers hot food and alcohol, to move away from full service and create a more “natural Pret experience”.

He told MCA: “What we have learnt is that providing full service at Pret prices is not economic, maybe we should have known that from the outset. What we have learnt is that customers do like hot food and alcohol and are perfectly happy with the current Pret service system. So we are putting it into four or five other shops. We have put it into our Russell Square and South Kensington units. Where we do change the atmosphere through the lighting and put hot food out and a limited range of alcohol it is a more natural Pret experience and it makes the shops more relevant for that evening market. It has been a very instructive test for us and what it has taught us is that people want hot food, atmosphere and alcohol but not the table service.”

When the group’s ‘Good Evenings’ trial launched last April at its The Strand-based site, it featured a menu with several new items including spicy meatballs, chicken and bacon cobb, as well as salt beef sourdough toasties, plus a sparkling wine option, three whites and three reds, and two UK craft beers from Meantime Brewery.

Earlier this week, MCA revealed that the company had appointed Pano Christou as its new managing director for the UK.

Christou, who will take up his new role on 1 October, has been with the company, which currently operates c310 sites in the UK, has been with the company since 2000 when he started as an assistant manager. For the last two years he has been the group’s UK operations director.