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Pret A Manger’s global head of propositions on ‘disrupting’ the industry with coffee subscription 

Ed Ferguson

In 2020, Pret A Manger first launched its coffee subscription in the UK in a bid to “disrupt” the market and entice customers back into shops after the lockdown resulting from Covid-19.

Since then, the proposition – which went from a brainstorm to a nationwide rollout in just seven weeks – has offered subscribers up to five barista-prepared drinks a day, including coffees, teas, and more, for a monthly flat fee.

Earlier this week, the proposition in the UK evolved to also give subscribers of Club Pret (as it will now be known) 10% off in-shop purchases every single time they’re at one of its 450 sites, alongside their five barista-prepared drinks.

InternetRetailing sits down with Pret’s global head of propositions, Edward Ferguson, to discuss the origins of the subscription, its evolution, and the centrality of digital to the chain’s omnichannel strategy, ahead of his appearance at SubX World 2023.

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Origins – on Pret’s disruptive coffee subscription

“Like everyone in our sector, footfall dropped significantly as a result of the pandemic,” Ferguson reveals.

“Pret needed a new way to entice customers back to shops and get them to choose us over alternatives. The coffee subscription was thus designed, very deliberately, to present value for money to our current and potential customers. This value for money remains essential to the sustained success of the proposition.”

According to Ferguson, the move also helped to demonstrate how the coffee shop chain planned to emerge from the pandemic and build the digital means through which to grow. We were doing everything we could to navigate Covid-19 and prepare to thrive.”

Evolution – from coffee subscription to Club Pret

As part of the rebrand of its subscription, Club Pret, the coffee shop chain revealed the price was to increase from £25 a month to £30.

However, last year, the company already increased the price of the subscription by 25%.

“By no means do we take the decision to raise price lightly,” he says. “Of this increase, approximately £1 will cover increasing ingredient prices and £2 will help with rising energy costs. The remaining £2 will go towards Pret team pay”.

This comes as Pret has recently raised its staff wages for the third time in the year. As a result, employees are now being paid £10.60 an hour from £10.30, an increase of 2.9%.

As part of the revamp, the coffee shop chain has introduced iced drinks across 90% of its stores “following significant investment”, alongside a new 10% discount on food.

“The new 10% off discount will give our existing subscribers greater value and more reasons to visit us, whilst also broadening the appeal of the proposition to attract new subscribers to sign up,” Ferguson states.

Omnichannel – on the centrality of digital to Pret’s success

“Where our subscription differs from most other subscriptions is that ours is inherently omnichannel,” Ferguson says. 

“The digital experience is obviously critical, but this needs to be underpinned by a great in-shop experience.”

However, he adds that in a world where the pandemic hadn’t happened the company’s traditional bricks and mortar stores would “still have a loyal following”.

Ferguson concludes: “Given growing consumer expectations, this probably would become more challenging over time and we cannot escape that the pandemic did happen.” 

“We needed the digital elements of the omnichannel strategy to help us navigate Covid-19 and they are now some of our most exciting growth contributors. ”

Ferguson will be part of the new business models discussion at the SubX World 2023 event in London next month.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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