Pret has been a “bit behind the curve” in terms of digital innovation, UK MD Clare Clough has told MCA’s Food to Go conference.

She said the brand was exploring a number of trial initiatives, including payment technology, order ahead, bringing tills out from behind the counter, and tap and go technology at the shelf edge.

Clough said this would give Pret greater insight into its customers, though admitted any new initiatives would have to be balanced against the strength of its staff.

Pret is also exploring ways to expand its delivery business, which it calls Catering, and is currently less than 5% of sales, representing a “huge opportunity”.

“We believe we should have a bigger share of the delivery/catering market, particularly in London,” Clough said.

“It’s part of our business we didn’t put as much thought into.”

Pret is targeting new delivery channels such as office lunches, events catering, and looking to capitalise on changes to working habits, which “could represent a risk for Pret”.

Clough cited New York healthy eating brand Sweetgreen as a source of inspiration, particular its ‘outposting’ delivery model, which sees it set up food pick-up points inside office lobbies to improve efficiency.

Meanwhile, she said Pret was in the midst of a “big programme of innovation” of its veggie and vegan items, as it continues to grow its Veggie Pret estate.

Veggie Pret is giving the group a chance to experiment with store design, introducing digital displays to drive new dayparts, as well as introduce greenery into stores.

It also opening up the brand to a much younger customer base than traditional Pret’s average consumer of 39.