Bridgepoint tucks into Pret

Bridgepoint has picked up Pret a Manger from the founders and US fast food giant McDonald’s for an estimated £345m (US$690m). Goldman Sachs, which advised Bridgepoint on the transaction, has also taken a minority stake in the sandwich retailer. The founders will also be “significantly reinvesting” in the business but McDonalds will exit completely.

Pret currently has 200 shops. Most are in the UK with some in the US and Hong Kong. Last year sales rose 14.9% to £223m, implying that each shop produces £1.12m turnover annually. Bridgepoint wants to expand the operation, particularly overseas, with plans to open seven outlets in New York this year out of a total of 30 new shops. Going forward it hopes to expand by 15% annually.

The price thought to be paid is roughly a third less than the £445m first suggested when the chain was put up for sale. However, insiders said Pret trading remains strong. Bridgepoint has wanted to buy the business in 2002 soon after founders Sinclair Beecham and Jeremy Metcalfe sold a 33% stake to McDonalds.

Guy Weldon, Bridgepoint partner, said: “Pret A Manger is a unique business with many USPs that position it well to capitalise on food and consumer lifestyle changes driven by the trend for premium healthy eating.”

Alongside Goldman Sachs, lawyer Travers Smith, accountant KPMG and consultant OC&C advised Bridgepoint. Rothschild acted as adviser to Pret, with Macfarlanes as lawyer. SJ Berwin advised the management and Reed Smith Richards Butler acted for McDonald’s. The debt was underwritten by Rabobank.