Ambani’s Reliance links up with UK’s Pret A Manger to open outlets in India

Company will open branches of the food chain across major cities and travel centres under a master franchise partnership

Pret A Manger, which opened in London in 1986, offers coffee, sandwiches, salads and wraps, and has expanded globally with 550 shops in cities such as Dubai and Hong Kong. Photo: A
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Reliance Brands, part of the retail division of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, has entered into a partnership with Pret A Manger, which owns and operates a chain of restaurants globally, to launch the brand in India.

Under the long-term master franchise partnership, Reliance Brands will open the chain across the country starting with major cities and travel centres, the conglomerate said on Friday.

However, it did not disclose the commercial value of the partnership.

Pret A Manger, which opened in London in 1986, sells coffee, sandwiches, salads and wraps, and has expanded globally with 550 shops in cities such as Dubai and Hong Kong, as well as countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

“Our partnership with Pret is rooted in the strong growth potential of both Pret as a brand, as also of the food and beverage industry in India,” said Darshan Mehta, managing director of Reliance Brands.

“Indians, like their global counterparts, are seeking fresh and organic ingredient-led dining experiences, which has been synonymous with Pret’s core offering. Couple that with the high recall the brand enjoys in the country, it’s undoubtedly a recipe for success.”

The investment is part of Mr Ambani’s wider aim of transforming Reliance Industries, lessening its dependence on the oil-refining and petrochemicals businesses that he inherited from his late father. The tycoon is quickly turning his conglomerate into a technology-driven consumer and retail business.

India’s food service market is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.5 per cent between 2022 and 2027, on the back of high disposable income, an increasingly urban lifestyle and evolving consumer preferences, according to a report by Mordor Intelligence.

Earlier this year, Reliance Industries became the first company in India to generate $100 billion in annual revenue, after reporting a record-setting 2021-2022 fiscal year, driven by its retail and digital services units.

Reliance Brands is a subsidiary of Reliance Retail Ventures and began operations in 2007 with a mandate to launch and build global brands in luxury to premium segments across fashion and lifestyle.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Reliance Industries Limited sign board installed on a road divider in the western Indian city of Gandhinagar January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

Its portfolio includes brands such as Giorgio Armani, Bally, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Coach, Diesel, Hugo Boss, Versace and Jimmy Choo.

In 2019, Reliance Brands marked its international foray by acquiring British toy retailer Hamleys.

“Two decades ago, we opened Pret’s first shop in Asia and it has been an inspiration for all of us to bring our freshly-made food and 100 per cent organic coffee to new cities across the continent,” Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret A Manger, said.

The UK-based food chain is focusing heavily on international growth and plans to expand into five new countries after a £100 million ($120.9m) investment by its owner JAB Holdings and founder Sinclair Beecham, it said last September.

It also plans to open 200 additional outlets in the UK and hire 3,000 people by the end of 2023, the company said.

Pret said last month that it plans to open 20 shops in the UAE over the next few years as it seeks to double the size of its business in the next five years.

The company signed an agreement with its long-term franchise partner in the UAE, Emirates Leisure Retail, for the expansion.

Pret announced last month that it plans to open 20 shops in the UAE over the next few years as it seeks to double the size of its business in the next five years. Reuters

Also last month, Pret announced plans to launch the brand and its products in Spain and Portugal as part of an agreement with new franchise partner Ibersol Group.

The company signed an agreement with One PM Franchising in November last year to expand in Kuwait.

Pret is growing its presence vertically and has expanded into consumer-packaged goods as it sells bake-at-home frozen croissants, granolas, tomato sauce and coffee, with the products now available in UK shops.

It also unveiled retail coffee products and a coffee subscription service.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 12:21 PM
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