Opening of Belfast shop a ‘huge moment’ for Pret A Manger

Opening of Belfast shop a ‘huge moment’ for Pret A Manger
Pret A Manger has opened its first shop in Northern Ireland, marking an exciting moment for the brand, as UK & Ireland MD Clare Clough tells NR.

Wanting to help fuel the Christmas shoppers during the festive season, Pret A Manger opened its hotly-anticipated Belfast shop on 7th December, marking its first foray into the Northern Irish market.

With many eager customers having gone through the new doors at Donegall Square West, Clare Clough, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Pret A Manger said their first Northern Ireland shop was “a huge moment for Pret”.

Pret A Manger UK & Ireland MD, Clare Clough.

Having arrived in Ireland in August 2022, Pret’s Belfast shop is the company’s fifth shop to open across the island of Ireland, and marks an exciting moment for the brand, with plans to open 20 shops across the island within the next decade.

“At this stage, we are focused on launching the Pret brand successfully in Northern Ireland with our first shop at Donegall Square West. We are always looking out for new opportunities to help us bring Pret to more people and are on the lookout for more Pret locations across Northern Ireland,” said Clare.

“We opened our first shop in the Republic of Ireland last year with our longstanding franchise partner, Carebrook. We currently have four shops open in Dublin and are excited to be opening our first one in Belfast as part of our ambition to open 20 shops across the island of Ireland, creating up to 400 jobs.”

Pret started in 1986 in London with the aim of offering customers freshly made good food and coffee. Some 30 years later, Clare said this simple ambition hasn’t changed.

Pret’s sandwiches, salads and wraps are freshly handmade each day in shop kitchens using quality ingredients and all coffees, tea and hot chocolates are organic. What started as a London-based chain has now grown into a global brand with over 660 shops and 10,000 employees worldwide.


“Pret’s strategy before the pandemic was about following the skyscraper, opening shops which were close to office blocks to serve commuters,” said Clare.

“Since the pandemic fundamentally changed the way people work and travel, we now want to follow the customer. That’s the real recipe for our growth and it’s why we’ve expanded into countries, regions and towns in the UK which never used to have a Pret – like Belfast.

“More than half of new Pret shops opened since January 2022 have been outside of London, and we’ve noticed that customers are coming to us at different times of the day and more days of the week depending where our shops are.”

Clare explained that it was the company’s intention to expand their shops across Ireland, while working with a local charity.

“We always had ambitious plans with Carebrook to bring Pret to people across the island of Ireland and have long had customers asking us to bring our freshly made food and organic coffees to Belfast.

“As well as bringing our unique offer to Northern Ireland, we’re proud to be supporting local charity, the Welcome Organisation, by donating the shop’s unsold food at the end of each day via The Pret Foundation. The Pret Foundation’s mission is to help end hunger, poverty, and homelessness in the communities where we operate.”


This commitment to others begins on their own doorstep, with support for staff and encouragement to grow within the business.

“We take great pride in that Pret is a place to grow your career. Our CEO, Pano started as an assistant manager in one of our shops, nearly 90% of Pret general managers began their career as members of the shop teams, and 95% of operations managers began on the Pret shop floor.

“To also help us retain talent, we take pride in being a top employer, and last year we gave our third pay rise to our hard-working shop teams in a 12-month period, increasing staff pay ahead of inflation.”

Amidst this however, is the battle of rising business costs and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis with Clare saying they are making efforts to address this for staff and consumers.

“Like all businesses, we are continuing to face cost pressures. Energy is one example of this, while the cost of ingredients has also gone up.

“At Pret, our costs are slightly different, because our food is prepared by people in kitchens every day, not by machines or in factories, like many other sandwiches you find on the high street.

“Pret continues to offer great value for money across our freshly made food and organic coffee. We offer an extensive menu, with lots of products at different price points.

“Fundamentally, what makes us unique is our focus on high quality, fresh products, and commitment to great service. That’s what our customers come to Pret for.”

Looking ahead, Clare highlighted the initiatives Pret is undertaking in its drive towards sustainability, and responding to consumer demands for more ‘green’ awareness.

“At Pret, we always strive to do what we can to help customers make more sustainable choices. For example, we have made a global commitment to make 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, to eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastic, and to help customers to recycle effectively in our shops.

“We also know that many customers are conscious about their meat consumption, and we’re proud that 50% of our menu offers vegetarian or vegan friendly options. Where possible, we always aim to source our ingredients locally to help reduce our carbon footprint.

“Our board also recently approved Pret’s 2030 Sustainability Ambition, centred around three key pillars – Planet, People and Product.”