Pret A Manger has reached an agreement to buy grab-and-go chain Eat, with plans to convert its stores into vegetarian outlets.
Pret has said that as many of Eat's 94 UK shops as possible will become "Veggie Prets" in response to growing consumer demand.
Clive Schlee, chief executive of Pret a Manger, said: "The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan customers who want delicious, high-quality food and drink options. We have been developing the Veggie Pret concept for more than two years and we now have four hugely successful shops across London and Manchester. The acquisition of the Eat estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbo-charge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it."
Eat's estate will continue to trade as normal ahead of any conversions, with Pret a Manger saying it would be alerting the Competition and Markets Authority to the acquisition.
Chief executive Andrew Walker commented today: "Eat's passionate and talented team are what make the business; their commitment to providing our customers with great food and excellent service is at the heart of the company's outstanding recent performance. I am delighted that their efforts have been recognised through this transaction. It has been a privilege to lead Eat for the past three years, and I believe this acquisition creates new opportunities for employees and customers alike."
Eat chairman Andrew Aylwin added: "Pret is a fantastic brand and this transaction represents a strong strategic fit with benefits for all concerned. I would like to thank Andrew Walker and his team for the outstanding job they have done revitalising the brand and business in the last few years and the company's shareholders and lenders for their support."
In February 2018 Eat had said it was "considering various options regarding its business", before announcing the closure of 10% of its sites as it focused on the London market.