A plan to open the first branch of an upmarket sandwich chain in the middle of Sheffield has been applauded as 'a sign the city is being taken seriously'.
Pret a Manger is bringing an outlet to the old Coles Corner site, and has asked the council for permission to make internal alterations and fit out the unit at 2 Fargate, formerly a branch of the HSBC bank.
The shops are a fixture in other UK cities – Leeds and Manchester have five branches each – but Sheffield city centre has missed out until now.
The firm opened a branch in Meadowhall last year that created 20 jobs, marking Pret a Manger’s return to the shopping mall, where it briefly had a presence in the early 2000s.
Former restaurateur Neale Gibson, Labour councillor for Walkley and the council’s food champion, said he was delighted by the ‘positive’ move, and that it reflected a heightened level of confidence in Sheffield as regeneration projects such as the new retail quarter gained momentum.
“I think it’s a sign that people are taking Sheffield seriously. People are excited about the developments in the city centre and we’re on the up at last.”
Coun Gibson said Pret a Manger will have recognised that Sheffield is ‘a place to be’. “It’s forward-looking, exciting and we’re finally gaining on Leeds and Manchester and becoming a driving city of the North.”
He said his ‘one gripe’ was that there were not enough local food ventures in the city centre.
“The trouble with Pret is that a lot of their ingredients will be manufactured in a factory somewhere. But they are quite good at sustainability and recycling.”
Pret a Manger – which means ‘ready to eat’ – sells sandwiches, baguettes, soups, wraps and salads, as well as breakfasts, sushi and hot drinks. The chain, founded in 1986 in London, has 486 outlets worldwide, and is now more commonly known as simply ‘Pret’. It gives unsold food to homelessness charities.
Historically Coles Corner, at the junction with Church Street, gained its name as it marked the spot of the Cole Brothers department store, which moved to Barker’s Pool in 1963 and later became John Lewis. The corner was a popular meeting spot, is commemorated with a plaque and inspired the title of an album by Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley.
A Pret spokeswoman said it was too early to confirm an opening date.