Pret A Manger is to buy food and drink retailer Eat – and plans to convert the brand’s shops to vegetarian Veggie Prets.

Eat currently operates around 90 sites, having closed 17 last year to focus on London, although it also operates in cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol. Turnover at Eat had fallen from £99m in 2017 to just under £95m in 2018.

Announcing the previously much-rumoured acquisition, Pret said it planned to turn “as many Eat shops as possible” to Veggie Prets as demand for more vegetarian and vegan options grew.

The first permanent Veggie Pret store opened in September 2016 and the brand now operates out of a further three locations in London and Manchester.

“The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand from vegetarian and vegan customers who want delicious, high-quality food and drink options,” said Pret CEO Clive Schlee.

“We have been developing the Veggie Pret concept for over two years and we now have four hugely successful shops across London and Manchester. The acquisition of the EAT estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbo-charge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it.”

Eat CEO Andrew Walker said it had been a privilege to lead the business for the past three years, adding that he believed the acquisition created new opportunities for employees and customers.

“Eat’s passionate and talented team are what make the business; their commitment to providing our customers with great food and excellent service is at the heart of the company’s outstanding recent performance,” he stated.