Pret A Manger has confirmed it is looking to establish new franchise partnerships to further expand into towns and travel hubs across the UK.
The Sunday Times reported the grab-and-go chain was drawing up plans to open 100 new shops nationwide with franchisees in a push to expand outside London.
A Pret spokesperson said: "Over the past few years, we've seen there's a real demand from customers in different parts of the country for our freshly prepared food and organic coffee. In some areas, such as regional towns and parts of northern England, our shops are busier than they have ever been. We're looking to establish new partnerships with franchise partners to bring Pret to more people in towns and travel hubs across the UK, and we're also looking at where we can open more shops which we run directly."
The move follows the launch of Pret's partnership with Tesco to trial outlets inside Tesco stores in Kensington, Peterborough and others yet to be announced.
The business, which relied heavily on high footfall areas and office workers in London, was hit hard by the pandemic and chief executive Pano Christou said it may take years for the financial districts to fully repopulate.
In its most recent financial report, Pret said it had secured an injection of £185m from shareholders to help the business navigate through the continued impact of Covid-19, providing the group with a "reasonable expectation that [it] can continue in operation and meet its liabilities".
However, the business, backed by JAB Holdings, acknowledged "material uncertainties" could cast "significant doubt over the group's ability to continue as a going concern".
During 2020, the chain underwent a restructure to reduce its cost base which included the closure of 39 Pret and 33 Eat-branded shops in the UK, with 3,771 redundancies. The group reported a pre-tax loss of £26m and launched an in-shop coffee subscription service, which allows subscribers to order up to five hot drinks a day for £20 a month, in an attempt to accelerate its recovery.
Last week the group was pushed to restore the staff mystery shopper bonus after an outcry and threats of strike action on social media.