JAB-Owned Pret A Manger Seeking Deal for Rival Eat, Sources Say

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. sandwich chain Pret A Manger is in discussions to buy rival cafe brand Eat, according to people familiar with the situation.

Pret may buy all or a majority of Eat’s 94 shops, which are predominantly based in London, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The Evening Standard reported earlier that the companies are in advanced discussions. Eat’s owner, private equity firm Horizon Capital, hired Spayne Lindsay & Co. as advisers to sell the business in February, according to the newspaper.

Representatives for Pret and Horizon declined to comment.

JAB Holding Co. bought Pret last year for 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion). The investment vehicle for the billionaire Reimann family has amassed a coffee-and-cafe focused empire that includes Panera Bread restaurant chain and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

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While Pret and Eat offer a similar selection of coffee, sandwiches and salads, Pret has a footprint in 10 countries. Eat’s shops are limited to Britain’s transport hubs and shopping streets, making it vulnerable to closing shops and declining foot traffic.

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