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This article was taken from The Daily Mail, 25th February
Starbucks and Pret to sell alcohol in a bid to lure late-night drinkers away from pubs
Starbucks and sandwich chain Pret a Manger are to begin selling alcohol in a bid to attract late night drinkers away from pubs.
Both chains have begun trialling selling wine and beer, evening meals and later openings in some outlets and are now looking at ways to expand nationwide.
And in a bid to woo coffee snobs who don’t like the mainstream chains, Starbucks has revealed a new look shop.
The US giant is calling the concept ‘Star R’ – which refers to its ‘Starbucks Reserve’ coffee.
Unlike its normal stores, customers are treated to table service from uniformed waiters and waitresses holding iPads to take orders.
Wine, from vineyards in its home state of Washington, craft beer and tapas are available after 4pm.
Starbucks American boss Howard Schultz has said he wants to open up to 100 of the shops around the world. More locations in London will follow as well as Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
Rival Pret a Manger’s trial store opened in London and sells dinners to tempt theatre goers with meals including lemon & rosemary chicken or meatballs for less than £6, served to customers’ tables on crockery.
Diners can also choose from a selection of French red and white wines, prosecco and British craft beers.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive at the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘As long as there’s a level playing field, and coffee shops have to jump through the same hoops as pubs when it comes to the burdens of the licencing system, there is no general reason why coffee shops shouldn’t serve alcohol.
After all, most pubs now sell great coffee, and also compete vigorously with the restaurant sector on our high streets.’
She said the coffee shops will not be able to compete with the way pubs serve cask beer which the ‘coffee shops would struggle to imitate.’
Anthony Pender, of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: ‘We have been watching the developments around brands such as Starbucks offering alcohol with interest.
‘We do not believe this will have a long-term negative effect on the pub industry because we provide a very different experience to these types of food outlet, particularly in the evening and late night space.
‘The great British pub occupies a key part of our country’s culture and there are few things that can beat enjoying a drink with friends in a quality pub.’
As well as opening new outlets Starbucks is also planning on novelty to compete with upmarket coffee shops.
This includes coffee making that looks like a chemistry laboratory: funnels, siphons and glass chambers. These gadgets can create six different coffees with five different brewing methods.
Rhys Iley, vice president of Starbucks’ operations across Europe said: ‘The new shops are theatre for coffee. We want to showcase our coffee credentials and we are showing the science behind it.
‘We are finding customers want to come in the evening as an alternative to the pub.’
Nick Sandler, creative chef at Pret, said: ‘Customers have been asking us for some time about creating an early evening menu, so we’re giving it a go.
‘Evening dining is particularly important to customers in this area of the city who are looking for somewhere convenient and affordable to eat before heading to the theatre.’
Pret also sells alcohol at its Gatwick Airport outlet and some of its central London and station shops are open until 11pm or midnight. It will now look at where else it will sell alcohol and open late.
Retail specialist James Sawley, from HSBC Commercial Bank, said: ‘More and more restaurants and cafes are doing all day menus as the frequency of eating out is increasing.
‘From pubs to cafes to restaurants, chains are expanding their menus from breakfast and into the evening. To stay relevant in the face of changing consumer behaviours, chains have to innovate and adapt to compete.
‘The eating out market is growing and branded casual dining chains are winning market share against independents, however I expect quality independents will always thrive.’