Pret a Manger will launch a range of hot dinner options this week as it ramps up its response to the coronavirus crisis. 

The food and beverage chain will begin selling evening meals through Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat from Thursday as it bids to gobble up a slice of the lucrative dinner market.

Pret’s new dinner menu, which will initially be offered from 30 stores based predominantly in London, will focus on healthy options including curries, rice bowls, mac and cheese, focaccia pizzas, and salads. 

The business is also launching a new ‘Order Ahead’ service on its website this week, allowing customers to arrange a takeaway breakfast or lunch from their local Pret at a specified time. 

It comes as the coffee specialist seeks fresh revenue streams as part of boss Pano Christou’s multichannel vision for its post-pandemic future.

Pret has been hammered by the coronavirus crisis and resulting lockdown measures, which have sparked an exodus from city-centre office locations, where many of Pret’s stores are situated. 

The chain has been forced to shutter stores and axe more than 3,000 staff since March as it battles to transform its operations and emerge stronger from the health crisis. 

It started selling its first retail coffee range through Amazon back in May and is now selling the same lines in 300 Waitrose stores across the UK.

Pret is also in talks to strike similar partnerships with Ocado and other supermarket players, Retail Week understands. 

The launch of the dinner menu, which has been pulled forward from its initial target date of next February, will mark the second time Pret has made a play for the lucrative but hotly contested evening meal market.

Back in 2015, one of its stores on The Strand, London, trialled a new dine-in menu, which included meatballs, salads, Korean barbecue chicken and mac and cheese.

Speaking exclusively to Retail Week, Christou said: “Trying to grow a new day part is not easy, it takes a long time and, more often than not, it’s unsuccessful. But the team are really fired up to give that a go. I’m confident that the food and the menu tastes really good. 

“Over the last few months I’ve worked my way through many of our competitors’ menus – a year ago I probably had one takeaway once a month, but I wanted to understand what’s out there.

“One of my conclusions is that there aren’t many out there offering really healthy, fat-free, hearty options in the evenings. We’re not going to try to do a McDonald’s and do burgers and fries; we’re not trying to replicate a Chinese restaurant. But with the strength of our brand, we have a licence to play and give it a go.”

Read our interview with Pret a Manger boss Pano Christou in full on later this week.