Pret a Manger has bought out rival food and drink retailer Eat, in a move the company said will help it accelerate growth of its vegetarian brand.
Pret confirmed it would take over the 94-strong Eat estate and convert as many stores as possible into Veggie Prets.
Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret said: “The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers who want delicious, high-quality food and drink options.
“We have been developing the Veggie Pret concept for over two years and we now have four hugely successful shops across London and Manchester.
“The acquisition of the Eat estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbo-charge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it.”
The deal, which had been rumoured to be on the cards since last week, will provide an exit for Eat’s private equity owner Horizon Capital.
Last year Eat appointed advisers at KPMG to investigate the possibility of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to close some of its underperforming stores.
Management later decided against the procedure and instead closed a handful of stores.
Accounts filed to Companies House show that Eat Limited made a loss before tax of £17.26 million on turnover of just under £95 million in the year to June 28 2018.
Andrew Walker, CEO of Eat, said: “Eat’s passionate and talented team are what make the business; their commitment to providing our customers with great food and excellent service is at the heart of the company’s outstanding recent performance. I am delighted that their efforts have been recognised through this transaction.”
Pret a Manger is itself owned by investment giant JAB Holdings, which acquired a major stake the chain last year in a transaction worth £1.5 billion. It has over 500 shops in nine countries.