As it gets ready to build its first location in Northern Ireland, PRET A Manger has announced good half-year performance. Despite a recent decision to increase the price of the offer, the cafe said that high demand for its subscription service helped boost half-year sales by more than a fifth.

The food-to-go firm posted first-half 2023 sales of £429.9 million, a 20.2% increase over the same period last year. Just over a year ago, Pret declared its intention to enter the Irish market and its intention to do so by opening 20 locations on both sides of the border.

Pret previously has two locations in Dublin, but CBRE has revealed the restaurant company has reached an agreement for a space in Belfast's city centre, which will be its first location in Northern Ireland.

Pret reported record weekly earnings in May and June of this year because of customers finding its Club Pret subscription programme appealing when it was expanded to include food as well as coffee. According to the organisation, digital transactions increased by 42% in the first half of the year, up from 40% in December.

In June, Pret raised the price of the subscription service by 20% to £30 per month, marking the second price increase since the programme's inception in 2020. It also expanded the programme, which was relaunched in April as Club Pret after first launching in 2020 as a coffee-only membership, to include a 10% discount on meals and cold beverages.

Pret also disclosed that in 2022, for the first time, it generated an operational profit of £50.6 million, marking a return to profitability after 2018.

With the company now running more than 600 shops globally across 15 countries, and with foreign sales now making up 18.9% of total revenues, the organisation applauded global expansion for helping to enhance its profits. By the end of this year, it hopes to have more than 700 stores worldwide.

The company claimed that it has entered seven new foreign markets since 2021, exceeding growth expectations set in September 2021 to double the size of its business in five years.

Pret CEO Pano Christou said: “It's been three years of transformation at Pret, in which we've evolved into a truly global, multi-channel brand, and emerged as a stronger business than we were in 2019.

"We're focused on continuing to grow, while constantly innovating to bring Pret's freshly made food and organic coffee to brand new places, from Bishop's Stortford to Bradford and from Italy to India."