British food-on-the-go chain Pret has posted a 13.9% rise in sales, to £676.2m, for the 52 weeks to 1 January 2016, driven by sales of vegetarian options which experienced double-digit growth.
In a way Pret serves as a benchmark for the nation's eating habits. According to the retailer Brits have been devouring avacados while the mini egg and spinach protein pots proved the fastest growing new product launch in 2015: 1.4m of those pots were sold last year.
As the shift in the UK's eating habits becomes more prominent, Pret is to follow through with its first standalone vegetarian store. Branded 'Pret's Little Veggie Pop-up,' the site will open in London's Soho for the month of June. Pret's Chief Marketing Officer Mark Palmer told Marketing Week that "more could follow."
Palmer told Marketing Week: “It isn’t just the number of vegetarians that are growing but also meat eaters just wanting to switch up their routine; a switch to clean eating is definitely the biggest trend we’re seeing among Brits.”
He added: “A small number of dedicated vegetarian and vegan shops could possibly follow this one and it isn’t something we’re going to rule out. However, the most likely outcome here is we treat the space as a live audition for new non-meat options.
“Usually a brand will create a new concept, like the veggie store, and commit to rolling it out across hundreds of sites. But why? That is risky. It is lower risk to be patient. To take a learning from one site and then apply that innovation across the business.”
In the run up to the new store, Pret will celebrate existing vegetarian and non-meat options. The tag line ‘Not Just For Veggies’ will be advertised across the 308 UK sites and on bags.
“The whole point of the new in-store marketing campaign is you don’t need to be vegetarian to enjoy this food. The marketing industry loves to put customers into boxes but we’re seeing our customers become more experimental,” explained Palmer. “All the macro trends in the UK show people want more healthy choices and ingredients so the brands that follow that mantra will win.”