Pret A Manger is axing almost all of its vegetarian-only stores as the novelty of meat-free branches wears off.
The sandwich chain is to shut down or rebrand 75pc of its Veggie Pret stores six years after they first launched.
Four Veggie Pret stores have closed for good in recent months, while one in Canary Wharf has been converted into a regular Pret. The company is understood to be considering doing the same to two other branches in Manchester and London.
The pull back will leave just two Veggie Pret shops in London’s Soho and Shoreditch.
Pret said the decision was driven by the fact vegetarian options were now widely available at all its stores, giving customers less reason to seek out the specialist shops.
A spokesman said: “Over half of our menu is vegetarian or vegan, with meat-free and vegan options accounting for 1 in 3 of our main meals sales.”
Meat-free items include smoky carrot and falafel sandwiches, hummus and chipotle wraps, and beet wellington baguettes.
Veggie Prets first began as a pop-up in London’s Soho in 2016 but proved so popular that the company made it a permanent fixture. The original branch sold salad super bowls and “plant pots”, among other items.
At its peak, there were 10 Veggie Pret’s across the country and the company had planned to convert the majority of Eat stores into Veggie Prets after buying the rival chain in 2019. Those plans were halted by the onset of the pandemic before being scrapped.
The Pret spokesman said: “Our focus now is to keep growing our extensive vegetarian and vegan offering in every Pret shop, so we’ve decided to convert or close some of our current Veggie Prets.”
The remaining two Veggie Prets “will continue to develop new vegan and vegetarian options to be rolled out to our classic Prets,” the spokesman added.
Vegan and vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, driven by concerns about health and the impact of the meat industry on the planet.
Pret A Manger has almost 400 stores across the UK.