Pret CEO Pano Christou has revealed the launch of a consumer app is one the things he is looking forward to most at the business in 2021.

He was speaking to MCA as part of video interview for the Retailers’ Retailer Awards, where Pret won Best use of Tech, for its coffee subscription.

Pret launched an app in the US in 2017, where it also has a coffee subscription, but has never had a consumer app in the UK.

Christou said: “I’m really looking forward to so many things in Pret this year, in particular the launch of our app, off the back end of the success of our coffee subscription, which really captured the hearts and imaginations of consumers and our teams.

Discussing the acceleration of tech development during the pandemic, he said: “Many businesses have underinvested in technology, including Pret, but I think the trend has accelerated five years within a year because of the situation.”

Christou said the most important he has learned during the past year was to be “agile and nimble”, and ensure the company adapts to the challenges of Covid, echoing what colleagues have said about the quick turnaround of the coffee subscription.

“The business really had to flex and adapt for the challenges of last year, and I’m really proud to see how that’s happened from our workforce,” he said. “Our technology enablement and opening stores and closing stores at such a pace was really amazing to see.”

Christou acknowledged it had been a challenge to keep staff motivated while on furlough, and was a nervous time for many during its redundancy process.

“Pret is really proud of the culture it has, and the emphasis on its people,” he said. “I’m a product of that, I’ve have been working at Pret for over 20 years. But it’s been really challenging.

“There was real uncertainty due to the restructure. But now we’ve gone through that we are a lot calmer and I think the workforce are really excited about the future.

Looking forward, Christou said: “It’s been a really challenging time for the hospitality sector, but I feel really confident about the future. It’s been amazing to see how so many different hospitality businesses have evolved through the pandemic. I think as we get through this, there’ll be opportunities to grow again.

Christou cited Pret’s Dinners offering as a “real opportunity” to tap into the evening daypart via delivery.

Ahead of the award announcement, he said winning the award would be a deserving reward for the hard-working team.

“The importance of recognition, and the Retailers awards is very well known in the industry, and we’re very proud to have won awards over the years,” he said.

“The opportunity to be recognised is great, and I think in particular for our teams they’ve worked so hard in such difficult conditions, so these things are really the icing on the cake.”