Sandwich chain Eat closes permanently after 24 years

The struggling Eat sandwich chain will disappear permanently from the UK high street after its owners, Pret Manger, closed the doors of its remaining 90 branches.

Most high-street coffee shop and restaurant chains have announced temporary closures because of government restrictions on social distancing, but it was confirmed on Monday that Eat’s closure was permanent.

The company tweeted: “After 24 years of creating, making and serving real food, it is time for us to say goodbye. Thank you to all of our wonderful customers – we’ve loved every minute of our journey.”

The chain was acquired by its much larger rival Pret a Manger in May 2019 for an undisclosed sum as a route to rapidly expanding its own standalone vegetarian brand, Veggie Pret, which sells only vegetarian and vegan food.

The majority of Eat’s outlets were in London but it also had sites around the UK including in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as airport outlets in Bristol, Edinburgh and Heathrow. Franchise partners will continue to operate outlets in Paris Gare du Nord and Spain.

The chain, which was founded in 1996 by husband and wife Niall and Faith MacArthur, opened its first shop next to Charing Cross station in central London.

The struggling UK business was put up for sale by its private equity owners, Horizon Capital, in February 2019. Pret had been seeking to turn round the fortunes of Eat, which had been struggling with hefty losses and exploring the possibility of shutting stores. It made a £17.3m loss in the 12 months to June 2018 when sales slipped more than 4% to £94.9m.

On Saturday, Pret announced its decision to close its 400 UK shops temporarily in light of coronavirus.

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