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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Pret A Manger is a pretty successful business as evidenced by its recent results that showed it enjoying strong sales growth of 16% for 2014 – it has been in the double-digits annually for some years.

But like any decent business the company continues to challenge itself in order that it does not go stale and that it remains relevant to its customers. Consider that in the past year 12% of sales came from new products. As many as 50,000 macaroni cheese dishes are now sold weekly since the October launch.

Even more indicative of its progressive thinking came with the decision to open one of its London outlets in the evening. Down went the lighting, in came the jazz music, onto the menu came the likes of baked sweet potato wedges, and a drinks list of wine and beer appeared.

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Presented as a one-off one-store trial the 6pm to 11pm ‘Good Evenings’ opening will undoubtedly be a learning exercise and it will be very surprising if we don’t see more of this activity in the future. After Starbucks trialled late openings with alcohol served alongside its coffee offer it quickly rolled out the idea to many of its stores.

Such actions also highlight how retailers of all types have to increasingly sweat their assets while also guarding against competition that now comes from all angles and no longer just from the more obvious rivals. Everybody wants a bit of your slice of the pie it seems.

Even McDonald’s is playing with its existing model – involving customers ordering at the counter and carrying their food to a table – in Germany where the fast food company is trialling table-side service.

Waiters carrying tablets take orders and food is delivered to the customer’s table. If the stalwart fast-food joint is going as far as toying with taking some of the ‘fast’ out of its model then really anything is possible.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.