A corporate takeover with a latte generosity: our thoughts on Pret a Manger’s sale

Coffee is one of the fastest growing consumer commodities and what greater confirmation of its value than Pret a Manger announcing its sale for £1.5billion – a return of more than 400% since Bridgepoint first acquired the group a decade ago for £350 million.  JAB – the investment arm of Germany’s Reimann family – will buy a majority stake in the much-loved high street coffee and sandwich chain.

Corporate takeovers require scrupulous management of internal and external communications as they naturally have the power to cause uncertainty amongst both staff and the markets.

Pret has worked tirelessly to build a reputation as a business with a heart and it added a classic extra shot of generosity to the announcement: every single one of the company’s 12,000 employees will be receiving a £1,000 bonus upon the deal’s completion later this year.

Given the scale of the company takeover, fear of the unknown for 12,000 staff would not be unexpected. That’s why Pret’s employee bonus is such a positive gesture – not only does it publicly highlight the company’s giving nature, it also sets out to reassure internal team members.

Looking back, this move fits in with the ‘kind’ ethos of Pret’s marketing and communications in-store and beyond. Over the years, the company has introduced initiatives such as giving customers free coffee “just because”, offering a 50p discount to encourage sustainable and reusable cups, and maintaining the Pret Foundation to redistribute leftover food to homeless people.

While we don’t recommend every company includes an employee pay-out to potentially smooth over fears of uncertainty (but wouldn’t that be interesting!), we think there’s a lot to be said for the way Pret CEO Clive Schlee has talked about the value and appreciation the company places in its staff. This has shone through in the official communications and has earned positive media coverage in its own right – aside from the ownership takeover details.

A company is nothing without its people, and this is rarely communicated externally, let alone given a monetary value.

In fact, CEO and partner of JAB, Oliver Goudet, commented on Clive and Pret’s positive management style when talking about the sale, highlighting its investment in innovation, commitment to customer service and ability to capitalise on evolving consumer tastes and lifestyle preferences.

Given the effective management of this takeover announcement in the press, we’ll be looking forward to the next chapter in Pret’s story.

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