Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has told MCA that he sees the potential for the Veggie Pret model to “connect” together the estate across the UK.

He said he envisioned the Veggie model being every 10th to 20th opening for the brand going forward, depending on the location.

As well as being profitable in their own right, Schlee said the Vegie stores also had a positive impact on conventional stores in the immediate vicinity, picking up the carnivorous trade.

Schlee said: “We have been really pleased with progress so far. There’s a slight drop in margin on veggie food because contrary to public expectation it actually costs more to make than meaty food. But, the shops are growing well. You normally see a pick up in the shops nearby because meat-eaters go off to another store.

“Exmouth Market (the third opening for the brand probably wouldn’t have been so well-received if it was a conventional Pret. The local traders felt respected and it might have felt a bit more intrusive if we had gone burgundy instead of green.

“I see it connecting up every 10th or 20th shop where you have plenty of penetration and you need to show some variety.”

Schlee reiterated that the experiment had also helped the brand across its core estate, saying: “Our made-to-sell salad, sandwiches, bagueetes and wraps – 51% are now without meat, but we never forget the meat-eaters. The number one selling product is still the chicken and bacon baguette.”

Schlee said the Veggie Pret experiment had been one example of how the company drew inspiration directly from its customer base and feedback through social media.

A full interview with Schlee, who was named MCA’s Retailers’ Retailer of the Year at the awards earlier this month, will appear in April’s print journal.