All 12,000 Pret a Manger staff to get 1,000 each as chain is sold for 1.5bn

Krispy Kreme owner JAB to acquire sandwich shops from private equity firm

Every Pret a Manger employee is to receive a PS1, 000 windfall as the British sandwich shop chain is taken over by the German-controlled company behind Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Kenco coffee, in a bargain worth more than PS1. 5bn.

Bridgepoint, the UK-based private equity firm, has agreed to sell Pret to the investment group JAB Holdings, which has been rapidly acquiring companies linked to the coffee market in recent years.

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Who are JAB Holdings?

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Based in the tax haven of Luxembourg, JAB Holdings is controlled by four members of the secretive Reimann family of Germany: Wolfgang, Stefan, Renate and Matthias, who can be counted among the wealthiest business dynasties in Europe with a luck of more than EUR1 6bn( PS14bn ).

The anonymous-sounding name JAB comes from the initials of Johann Adam Benckiser, who as one of the family’s forebears founded a chemical firm in 1823 that would become Reckitt Benckiser.

The investment vehicle still owns the second-largest stake in Reckitt, while the consumer giant’s former chief executive Bart Becht- who broke British corporate records in 2010 with a pay package worth PS90m- is chairman of JAB. The company also has shares in Coty, the beauty company behind the brands Calvin Klein and Wella.

With three senior partners at the helm, the company has been on a buying spree in recent years. JAB splashed out on fizzy drinkings company Dr Pepper Snapple earlier this year and paid out $13.9 bn( PS10. 5bn) in late 2015 for Keurig Green Mountain, one of the biggest coffee firms in the US.

Adding Pret will help JAB vie further with Starbucks and Nestle, while moving the vehicle away from luxury brands such as Jimmy Choo, which it sold last year for $1.2 bn. It also reportedly plans to sell Bally, another luxury goods firm in which it has a controlling stake.

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On Tuesday, Clive Schlee, the Pret a Manger chief executive, told 12,000 of its employees, from head office staff to baristas, would receive a PS1, 000 payout on completion of the deal.

Schlee said:” The PS1, 000 bonus will be paid to all employees who are on the payroll during the week the deal completes. It’s serendipity for those who have just joined .”

Staff at a Pret shop in London had no idea the company had been sold when asked by a reporter on Tuesday morning, and were incredulous that they would receive a PS1, 000 bonus.

” What? Why? Why would you dedicate us PS1, 00 each ?” told Fatu, a barista from Guinea in west Africa.” They don’t need to give us fund if they sell the company .” Fatu, who has been working at Pret for five years and loves it, said she would save all of her PS1, 000.

Lidia-Alexandra Sipos, a Pret team leader, said she would also save most of her PS1, 000 windfall after buying a gift for her mother.” She helped me so much to get here, and I want to give her something special to say thank you ,” she told.

Sipos started work at Pret 2 week after arriving in the UK from Romania in 2016 on the recommendation of her sister who was already working at the chain.” Pret really does look after you ,” she said.” I cease in December to try and get an office management job, but I analyze two days a week and it’s hard to get a job that lets you do that.

” So Pret helped me come back in February, and I can study management at college on Tuesdays and Thursday. And it pays better than receptionist work .” Sipos said she gets paid PS9. 70 an hour with a PS1-an-hour bonus if the store passes regular mystery shopper tests. She said the store almost always pass the points-based exam, as” we all come together as a team to make sure everything is always a good standard “.

Pret is based in London, where it was started by the entrepreneur Julian Metcalfe and his friend Sinclair Beecham with one shop in 1986. Metcalfe went on to create the Itsu restaurant chain and Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn.

Having expanded rapidly in recent years, opening 50 shops in the past year alone, Pret has more than 500 stores, generating revenues of PS879m. It also has stores in the US, China and Dubai.

The company is trying to attract more British employees as it prepares for potential personnel deficits after Brexit and seeks to expand further in the US and internationally.

The sale of Pret will mark a lucrative payday for Bridgepoint, which paid PS364m, including debt, to buy the chain about a decade ago. The private equity firm had been considering floating the company on the New York stock exchange, as it eyed significant expansion into the $41 bn( PS32bn) a year US coffee shop market.
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Instead, the deal will bring Pret under the ownership of Luxembourg-based JAB, which is an investment vehicle for Germany’s reclusive Reimann family.

Alongside Krispy Kreme and Kenco, JAB owns the Douwe Egberts and Tassimo coffee brands. It announced a bargain to take control of Dr Pepper Snapple, the fifth-largest fizzy drink maker in the world, for $18.7 bn earlier this year, in order to combine it with its US-based Keurig Green Mountain business.

Olivier Goudet, the JAB chief executive, said:” We’re very excited to partner with Pret and its talented team to continue their extraordinary growth tale .”

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