Pret a Manger, the sandwich chain operator, is to open its first site in New York for several years early next year, as it re-attempts to gain a share of the city’s sandwich market. The group has signed a lease on a 1,700 sq ft Manhattan site across from Grand Central Terminal, which it plans to open in early 2007. It said that it intends to open a further four sites in Manhattan locations during next years and the same number the following year. The company first entered the US market six years ago with plans to open 40 outlets by the end of 2004, however, after opening 16 sites, it ended up closing six in short order. Julian Metcalfe, co-founder of the chain, said that this time things would be different and that the “sky is the limit” in terms of expansion for the group. Metcalfe said that the company had spent the last 18 months focusing on employee training and product sourcing in order to turnaround its business in New York. This process has included Gerard Loughran, its chief operating officer, being based in New York since the beginning of the year, under a new title – president of Pret a Manger US. The group is also trying to bring a warmer atmosphere in-store with the addition of new padded seats and the replacement of chrome chairs and tables with booths. The company said it expects sales of $18.25m from its 10 New York sites this year, up from $11.09m in 2003.