Concerns Raised Over Pret Opening After Another Graffiti Strike

Unit hit for second time with anti-Israeli messages

Grafitti on the front of the Pret store with obscenities blurre
Grafitti on the front of the Pret store with obscenities blurred. Picture: Chris Longhurst

April 19, 2024

The unit which is expected to house the new branch of Pret a Manger in the Brentford Project has been hit for the second time by graffiti.

Anti-Israeli abuse has been sprayed on the unit which had its Pret branding removed after the first attack and replaced with plain pink hoardings.

The latest act of vandalism includes more explicit language and accusations of rape and murder with a reference to JAB Holdings, a German company which is the ultimate owner of Pret.

The café chain has been the subject of targeted action by a UK-based pro-Palestinian group called Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) following an announcement that it was planning to open 40 Pret shops in Israel over the next decade in a joint-venture with Israeli fashion chain Fox-Wizel and restaurant group Yarzin Sella. FOA has encouraged people to email Pret’s CEO asking that the deal be scrapped and express their views on stickers to give feedback on stickers provided by Pret on its sandwiches but has not advocated direct action against stores.

Concerns have been raised that a lack of activity at the site even before the first attack and some have suggested that the plans for opening may be abandoned. These reports have been dismissed by Ballymore, the developer of the Brentford Project but Pret has yet make any statement on its plans for the area. It is understood that the original intention was that the store would not be directly managed by Pret but run by a franchisee.

Richard Pearce, Senior Development Manager at Ballymore said, “Pret are in lease and are committed to Brentford. They are restructuring all of their suburban locations (not just Brentford!) to be franchise stores and as such they are going through a lengthy shortlisting process for selection shortly.

“We hope that they take access and open in the late summer.”

Ballymore recently published a leasing schedule for the Brentford Project which showed the Pret store was expected to open in June.

Removing Pret branding from unit has failed to deter attacks. Picture: Chris Longhurst

We spoke to someone involved in corporate lettings in the area about the situation and he said, “Pret’s franchise partners are not usually individuals but larger businesses which specialise in running a number of branches. Any firm thinking of taking on the branch will obviously be concerned about what is happening and there will be an impact on insurance costs but this will be spread over a big policy covering many branches so probably not material. The last thing they would want to do is create the impression that actions like this can have any impact on their decisions.”

Pret a Manger has not responded to our request for confirmation that it still plans to open a store at the site.

Meanwhile a new branch of the upmarket bakery chain Gail’s opened nearby at 2 Westbury Yard this Thursday (18 April).

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