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Pret A Manger’s global business sold to Krispy Kreme parent

Pret A Manger’s global business, including Hong Kong and Singapore, has been sold to global investment firm JAB.

Flush with cash from the sale of Jimmy Choo and a controlling interest in Bally, JAB is refocusing its core business investments on consumer goods and cafes. The company, majority owned by Germany’s secretive Reimann family – has controlling stakes in US coffee brand Keurig Green Mountain, European coffee supplier Jacobs Douwe Egberts, cafe chains Panera Bread, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee Company, US bagel chain Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Espresso House, Scandinavia’s largest branded coffee shop chain. It also owns shares in makeup giant Coty and consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser.

UK-headquartered Pret A Manger, which has 530 stores globally, including 26 in Hong Kong, one in Singapore and two in Mainland China, serves 300,000 customers daily with global revenues of £879 million (US$1.166 billion).

JAB will pay nearly $2 billion for the business (including taking over debt) to private equity investor Bridgepoint and an assortment of minority shareholders. According to BBC News, all 12,000 staff globally will receive a bonus of about US$1200. Bridgepoint bought the business in 2008, including a 33 per cent stake then held by fast-food operator McDonald’s Corporation, paying €500 million for the business, or US$584 million at today’s exchange rate.

Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee described the sale announcement as “a day of celebration at Pret”.

“This agreement recognises the hard work of all our amazing teams around the world. Bridgepoint has been a wonderful owner of the business for more than a decade. All of us at Pret believe JAB will be excellent long-term strategic owners.”

He said JAB supported Pret’s growth plans, suggesting further expansion in Asia is on the cards as the company refines its offers in Singapore and China.

“I am really looking forward to this next chapter of Pret’s story.”

The deal follows a ninth successive year of like-for-like sales growth for Pret A Manger.

“The brand continues to thrive around the world thanks to our simple recipe of freshly prepared food, served by genuinely engaged teams,” said Schlee.

JAB partner and CEO Olivier Goudet said his company plans to continue Pret’s “extraordinary growth story”.

“Management’s proven track record and commitment to customer service, investment in innovation and approach to freshly prepared food position Pret well as it capitalises on evolving consumer taste and lifestyle preferences. We look forward to working with Clive Schlee and his management team, while promoting the Pret brand and supporting Pret’s impressive culture for the next phase in the company’s growth with JAB.”

Last year, Philippines fast-food operator Jollibee was linked to a bid for Pret A Manger at a value exceeding $1 billion and Bridgepoint was also reportedly considering an IPO for the business.

It would appear from the published reactions of Pret A Manger management private ownership is a more comfortable fit with the business.

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