Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to be sold by its private equity owners for £1.5bn in a deal that could be announced as early as today.
According to the Financial Times, Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings is poised to snap up the ubiquitous cafe from its owners Bridgepoint, who have been looking to offload it for some months.
Bridgepoint bought Pret A Manger at the height of the buyout boom in 2008 for £364m.
JAB has built up the world’s second-largest coffee business over the past five years, controlling packaged brands such as Kenco and Douwe Egberts as well as retail chains like Peet’s and Espresso House and Keurig, the US answer to Nespresso.
Reuters reported last year that Philippines fast food chain Jollibee Foods Corp was exploring a bid worth more than $1bn for Pret.
In April Bridgepoint’s managing director William Jackson told the FT the group expected to see a seven-fold return on its initial investment, although at the time an IPO appeared a more likely route.
Jackson added: “We’ve thought that the best route for Pret in the long term is to be a quoted company. We’d love to be able to do that in the United Kingdom and that’s been on our mind.”
Pret has more than 500 stores worldwide, at least 329 in the UK and 74 in the US, since opening its first site in London’s Hampstead in 1984.
In its most recent set of results Pret’s sales rose 15 per cent to £776.2m, thanks to boosts in dairy- and gluten-free ranges.