Chipotle's biggest competitor isn't McDonald's

Pret a mangerPret A Manger on FacebookMorgan Stanley says Pret A Manger is Chipotle’s biggest competitor.

Chipotle is taking over.

The brand has expanded to nearly 2,000 restaurants around the world. Analysts at Morgan Stanley believe Chipotle could double the number of locations in the coming years.

Chipotle’s cult following and reputation for fresh and largely hormone-free food has helped it eat into McDonald’s market share.

But Chipotle’s real biggest competitor isn’t a household name, according to Morgan Stanley.

Casual cafe chain Pret A Manger has the most restaurants overlap within half a mile of Chipotle’s locations, according to a recent report by the investment bank.

Nearly 100% of Pret A Manger’s locations are within a half mile of a Chipotle.

Pret A Manger is a European fast-casual chain that sells sandwiches, soups, and salads. It has 60 US locations in Washington, New York, Boston, and Chicago.

The brand told The Wall Street Journal it “sees an enormous opportunity in the US” and plans to expand into new cities.

Still, its global footprint is only a fraction of Chipotle’s.

Here’s a chart showing restaurants that closely overlap with Chipotle.

Fast-casual chains like Nando’s, Roti Mediterranean Grill, and Mendocino Farms also ranked highly as competitors.

Like Chipotle, many of these chains cater to a higher-income customer than McDonald’s or Taco Bell.

The average check at Chipotle is about $US12, nearly twice as much as the $US6 you’ll spend at McDonald’s, according to Technomic.

Chipotle’s densest market, Washington metro, has an average household income of $US104,000, about twice the national average.

The Mexican food chain’s high price point limits the number of locations it can build.

“Chipotle has to be in areas that serve middle and upper-income customers, which limits the number of restaurants they can open,” Darren Tristano at Technomic told Business Insider. “McDonald’s can open in low-income neighbourhoods.”

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