Pret A Manger demands independent London bakery changes name Bread A Manger

French-born Fouad Saber, 42, who set up the company two years ago with Michelin star baker, Bertrand Kerleo, 47, said when they received the 15-page letter they thought it was a “scam”.

Billion pound global food chain Pret A Manger has demanded an independent artisan London bakery stops using its name Bread A Manger.

The firm has issued a notice to the Bermondsey two-man bakery and ordered it to hand over its website for free.

But the owners have said they will not back down and will not change their logo and marketing materials.

The letter on February 22 was sent by top international patent and trademark law firm Dehns, which has seven offices in the UK and one in Norway.

French-born Fouad Saber, 42, who set up the company two years ago with Michelin star baker, Bertrand Kerleo, 47, said when they received the 15-page letter they thought it was a "scam".

Bertrand Kerleo and Fouad Saber, owners of Bread a Manger. Photo: SWNS

While Pret A Manger originally demanded the name change happen on March 3, it now said it only wanted a "response".

Mr Saber said: "I was convinced it was a scam. I really thought it was a scam until I checked online the name of the lawyer company.

"I found it funny at first. But when I read the letter it was quite scary.

"It was a 15-page letter demanding today for us to change the company name, change the sign, hand over the website for free.

"It would cost around £8,000 to £10,000 to change everything.

Cakes at Bread a Manger. Photo: SWNS

"Our customers mostly pay and order online so even the thought of doing anything like what they are asking would badly damage the business."

Bread A Manger specialises in patisserie, birthday cakes, and bread using homegrown ingredients and bakes fresh every day.

It came about as a merger of two companies: Manger Moi, a former shop in Stratford, and Dynamic Baking Classes, in 2019.

Mr Saber continued: "They are completely two different companies. It means 'bread to eat'.

"Pret A Manger is different in French, it means 'ready to go' or 'ready to eat' depending on how you use it.

Bread a Manger, in Bermondsey. Photo: SWNS

"Pret A Manger was set up in London by an Englishman in the 80s. Obviously, they do sandwiches, salads, coffee, etc - it's fast food.

"We're completely different. We are a patisserie, we make bread, we do birthday cakes. We're not in competition.

"No one ever has come to us and said it looks like a Pret.

"We honestly didn't think about [Pret] when we created the name."

The two men say that loyal customers have come out in full force, including a judge who recommended a lawyer who will help them fight their case.

Bertrand Kerleo and Fouad Saber owners of Bread a Manger. Photo: SWNS

Mr Saber continued: "I'm not scared about it because it has been nearly two years since we opened our business.

"We've worked hard to build the company and we're dedicated to proving our case.

"I'm from Lyon, we never stop fighting.

"If someone had come down and spoke to us as human beings, I hoped we could have worked it out that way.

"Sending that bundle of a letter, threatening that we must change everything, it's just not a nice way of going about doing things."

Bread a Manger. Photo: SWNS

He added: "The reason why we are not in depression is that our customers are supporting us and we really appreciate it.

"We've had people who know the law come in and give advice - even a judge who recommended a lawyer.

"It's all very nice. It's not about the money."

Pret A Manger has however insisted the names are too similar.

In a statement, it said: “We have a duty of care to ensure the brand is not diluted."

Jo Holinska, head of operations for London, at Pret A Manger, said: “Thousands of Pret team members across London have worked hard to earn the trust of customers in the city over the past four decades.

“Although we appreciate it when other businesses take inspiration from what we do, this name is just too close, especially when many of the products are similar too.

“We’re more than happy to give the business the time it needs to make these changes and to provide any support we can, and we’ll be getting in touch again to see if we can resolve this in a fair and amicable way.”