February 6th, 2021
We love Pret. We love cheese and pickle and overpriced baguettes. We love salted popcorn, ginger shots and slightly warm croissants. We love advertisements of animals made from the cross section of an avocado or a portobello mushroom. We love the Christmas sandwich and that yoga bunny drink. We love the random acts of kindness policy that sometimes manifests as a free flat white; that if we bring our reusable cup we can get a forty-nine-pence filter coffee, and how we are welcome to refill our own water bottle for free — even when we haven’t bought anything.
Pret’s brand responsibility sandwiches produce with purpose; cradled by maroon paper bags and toted around by suit wearing Londoners, airport loungers, library escapees and us. The company punctuates practically every street in London and even outside the city, exists as a popular lunch spot and coffee hangout for tourists and locals alike. But behind the millennial monster were two friends with the simple mission of providing real food — free from the preservatives and chemicals that had begun saturating the market. The devotion to fresh, honest eats has survived over thirty years and more than four hundred UK shops; constant across copy, campaigns, product quality and company ethics.
Brand responsibility is presented in a commitment and consideration to both customer and employee, and an acknowledgement of wider ecological, societal and economic impact. In 1995, Pret A Manger launched The Pret Foundation Trust with the aim of reducing poverty in the UK. Each night, their vans deliver leftover food to more than one hundred charities and hostels that support the homeless community. Their Rising Stars programme has given over five hundred rough sleepers and convicted criminals safe housing, employment and the opportunity to start fresh. A zero-landfill policy was enforced in 2012 and more recently, the company pledged to eradicate all unnecessary single use plastic and become entirely recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Initiatives like these cement a forthright brand responsibility as the foundation of Pret-A-Manger’s identity, whilst others throw it in as an afterthought — a box tick, with less care than that of an extra sachet of sauce flung out the window of a drive thru. When they were challenged for their lack of allergen labelling back in 2016, following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, Pret made their food more honest. Full ingredient lists were introduced to all their products, spending millions of pounds in printing. This went above the legal requirements of food chains but illustrates a continued commitment to the original mission statement; upholding the brand purpose of supplying trustworthy, undisguised food.
The market is an overcrowded room teeming with brands trying to talk over one another with the biggest claims, boasting copy and boldest campaigns, all the while forgetting the interest of their consumer. Away from the noise, companies like Pret have found greater customer loyalty through quiet, conscientious action and a visual language with equivalent transparency, made up of raw material and white space. In fact, their composite customer satisfaction score has negated the need for stamp cards entirely.
Responsibility demands authenticity. It needs an ongoing commitment to serving people that stretches far greater than just over a counter. It needs brands to lead by example and prove through doing. If it were a food, it would be handmade, natural and made fresh each day —something Pret-A-Manger has been committed to doing since they first opened, back in 1986.
Written by Lydia Granger, Writer.
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