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Pret gobbles up rival Eat to roll out veggie branches

PRET a Manger has bought rival food chain Eat — and plans to convert many of its outlets into ‘Veggie Prets’.

The sandwich and coffee giant, which boasts more than 500 shops in nine countries, will take over its competitor’s 94 stores in a deal that will see the Eat brand disappear from UK high streets.

Pret’s chief executive Clive Schlee said the takeover, for an undisclosed sum, would help ‘serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers who want delicious, high-quality food and drink options’.

He added: ‘We have been developing the Veggie Pret concept for over two years and now have four hugely successful shops across London and Manchester. The acquisition of Eat is a wonderful opportunity to turbo-charge the development of Veggie Pret.’

The deal comes months after Eat closed a handful of underperforming stores. The chain reported pre-tax losses of £17.26million in the year to June 2018 — but has since had 11 consecutive months of growth.

Eat chief executive Andrew Walker said: ‘Our 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 their efforts have been recognised through this transaction.’

■ SIR PHILIP GREEN’s Arcadia Group has announced plans to shut 23 stores in the UK and Ireland, putting 520 jobs at risk. Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Topshop and Topman stores have been earmarked for closure as part of a company voluntary arrangement. The retailer’s proposed rescue plan will also see rent cut at another 194 outlets, with landlords offered 20 per cent of the proceeds if the group is sold. All 11 Topman and Topshop stores in the US are set to close. Arcadia directors will meet creditors on June 5 to seek approval for the proposals.