​Prezzo Pronto: Fresh Take on Fast Food in Commuter Hotspots

​Prezzo Pronto: Fresh Take on Fast Food in Commuter Hotspots

Posted by News on 16th Jan 2024

In a bold move to revitalise its business model, Prezzo, a well-known Italian restaurant chain, is gearing up to enter the fast-food sector, particularly targeting train stations. This initiative positions Prezzo as a competitor to established brands like Pret A Manger and Upper Crust. Dean Challenger, Prezzo's Chief Executive, revealed that the company is in the preliminary phase of launching a new line of fast-food outlets named "Prezzo Pronto," diverging from their traditional dine-in approach.

Prezzo, Southside Wandsworth Edward Hands, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Challenger identified a niche in train station food offerings, noting the absence of slightly upscale options compared to existing choices like  Upper Crust and KFC. Prezzo Pronto aims to fill this gap by providing convenient takeaway pasta and pizza slices inspired by popular trends in the United States. This strategic shift comes as the casual dining industry faces mounting pressures from inflation and changes in consumer behaviour due to the crisis in the cost of living.

The decision follows a challenging period for Prezzo, which included closing 46 locations and making over 700 redundancies in a restructuring effort last April. Challenger acknowledged that the most significant losses were in smaller market towns, where the business model struggled to thrive. He emphasised that Prezzo, which once boasted 300 outlets but now operates 96, will focus on expansion in high-traffic areas like retail parks, aligning with consumer preferences for recognised brands.

Additionally, Prezzo plans to introduce a brunch menu in its restaurants to boost business during typically quieter hours. The menu will feature unique dishes, including an Italian twist on breakfast and Panettone.

112,113,118,122,125,126,131,116

Founded in 2000 by Jonathan Kaye, Prezzo's journey began as a single restaurant on London's New Oxford Street. The chain experienced rapid growth in affordable dining options during the boom, alongside other Italian chains and competitors like Wagamama. However, market saturation, pandemic closures, and rising inflation have recently hit the sector hard.

Challenger, who joined Prezzo in 2018 and became CEO in 2022, admitted the company had become too focused on financial metrics at the expense of customer experience. The pandemic further challenged the business, leading to significant staff turnover and a reevaluation of company policies and direction. Despite these hurdles, Prezzo is making strategic changes, including menu adaptations and cost management, to navigate the current economic landscape.

The company, which recorded £95m in sales but pre-tax losses of £22m in its most recent accounts, recognises the delicate balance in pricing strategies amid inflation. Challenger emphasised the importance of maintaining quality while managing costs, ensuring customers receive value for their money.

We welcome your thoughts and comments on Prezzo's new strategic direction.

112,113,118,122,125,126,131,116