FOOD-to-go chain Pret A Manger has announced plans to open on the island of Ireland for the first time.
The sandwich franchise has confirmed it will open 20 stores in Northern Ireland and the Republic over the next decade, which is expected to create around 500 jobs.
The first store will open this summer on Dawson Street in Dublin city centre.
The food group’s Irish expansion will be launched under a franchise agreement with long-time food chain partner Carebrook Partnership.
Pret A Manager, which dates back to 1986 in London, takes its name from the French for “ready to eat”.
Now a major global operation, its majority owner is JAB. The German billionaire Reimann family’s investment fund acquired its stake in 2018 for £1.5 billion.
But the business took a hit during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
With revenues down 58% in 2020, the group has announced plans to cut 3,000 jobs.
Last year, Le Pret had 8,000 employees, including 6,400 in the UK, with around 550 stores worldwide.
The Irish market breakthrough plan follows Pret’s announcement in September last year, where it announced its aim to double the size of the business within five years, including launching in five new markets by the end of 2023.
The takeout chain also said it would hire 3,000 people by the end of 2022.
Pret A Manger chief executive Pano Christou said the company had been planning to launch stores on the island of Ireland “for a long time”.
“We are thrilled to have finally been able to make it happen,” he said in a statement.
“Our neighbors on the island of Ireland have long asked to bring freshly prepared food and organic coffee from Pret, and now, with the support of Carebrook Partnership Ltd, we are able to do so.
“We look forward to making this partnership a success.”
Carebrook’s majority owner, Gerard Loughran, is from Tipperary, with over 30 years’ experience in the UK and US food business. Minority co-owner Ray McNamara from Dublin has 25 years experience in the Irish food industry, including ownership of Ann’s Bakery.
Mr Loughran said: “We have worked with Pret for over three decades, since their arrival in London.
“Having grown up in Tipperary, and with over two decades of experience in the hospitality and food industry, I have always wanted to bring Pret to Ireland and Northern Ireland, so I am delighted that this will soon become a reality. .”