MCDONALD'S NIBBLES AT PRET A MANGER

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. has acquired a minority interest in the London-based lunchtime concept Pret A Manger, which operates more than 100 outlets in the United Kingdom and one in Manhattan [see "Fresh, Fast, Friendly," SN, Nov. 27, 2000].nse for McDonald's to offer," said Claire Babrowski, executive vice president of McDonald's.Pret A Manger officials said the investment gives the chain

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. has acquired a minority interest in the London-based lunchtime concept Pret A Manger, which operates more than 100 outlets in the United Kingdom and one in Manhattan [see "Fresh, Fast, Friendly," SN, Nov. 27, 2000].

nse for McDonald's to offer," said Claire Babrowski, executive vice president of McDonald's.

Pret A Manger officials said the investment gives the chain -- serving fresh sandwiches, snacks and beverages in a streamlined automat-type of format -- funds to finance international expansion, including the in United States, where more Manhattan locations are expected by year-end, they said.

"Our international partnership will provide us with capital to grow and enable us to take advantage of McDonald's expertise and infrastructure around the world, including their capability in real estate, construction, distribution and business systems," said Andrew Rolfe, chief executive of Pret A Manger.

Part of the concept's appeal is its limited menu and precise focus -- lunch hour. Its fresh-sandwich menu, made with natural ingredients and no additives, is served quickly by friendly, energetic clerks, in a modern footprint stressing efficiency.

The announcement by McDonald's continues a trend by the world's leading QSR chain to fund growth through alternative concepts. McDonald's has purchased a majority interest in the 104-restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill chain, and owns and operates 156 Donatos Pizza restaurants and 707 Boston Market locations across the United States, as well as 41 Aroma Cafes in the United Kingdom. McDonald's itself has about 28,700 restaurants in 120 countries.