Pret A Manger is shaking up its board and bringing back its co-founder to help guide the UK coffee-and-sandwich chain through a rapid overseas expansion. 

Olivier Goudet, the former chief executive officer of Pret owner JAB Holdings, is stepping down as chairman of the chain, according to the company. Goudet, who will remain on the board, will be replaced by Konrad Meyer, also a veteran of JAB. 

The shift will also mark the return of Sinclair Beecham, who co-founded Pret almost 40 years ago and remains a significant investor. The 65-year-old entrepreneur will help “reaffirm Pret’s mission” to focus on customers, he said in a statement.

The shake-up comes as Pret pursues a goal of opening 150 shops this year, led by an international expansion with franchisees. With more people working at home, it has tilted its business model away from expanding with owned stores in major cities such as London, New York and Hong Kong.

Since the end of the pandemic, it’s focused its growth on smaller towns, in airports and at service stations, often working with franchise partners. 

JAB has controlled Pret since 2018, when it bought the chain from the private equity group Bridgepoint Advisers Ltd. for £1.5 billion ($1.87 billion). The firm, which is controlled by Germany’s Reimann family and owns beauty group Coty and Krispy Kreme donuts, abandoned plans to list its US coffee chain Panera earlier this year. 

Goudet stepped down as CEO of JAB in November last year, after more than a decade. He became one of the world’s most prolific deal makers in coffee, food and pet care. 

As part of the changes at Pret, former chairman Larry Billet will rejoin the board.  

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