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A firm owned by Asia’s richest person has struck a deal to open outlets of the British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger across India.

A unit of multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries will run the chain under a franchise agreement.

It marks the first venture by Reliance Brands, which also owns India’s biggest retail chain, into the country’s growing food and drinks industry.

The first outlet is expected to open early next year in Mumbai.

“Our partnership with Pret is rooted in the strong growth potential of both Pret as a brand… also of the food & beverage industry in India,” Darshan Mehta, the managing director of Reliance Brands said in a statement.

“We’re looking forward to working with them on what is our most ambitious global franchise partnership to date,” Pret A Manger’s chief executive Pano Christou added.

Pret A Manger, which means “ready to eat” in French, was founded in London in 1983, with the first shop opening the following year.

After the original company went into liquidation the brand was bought by college friends Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe, with their first store opening in 1986.

The brand currently has 550 outlets around the world, across nine markets including the UK, US, Europe, and Asia.

Last year, Reliance Industries announced a franchise agreement with the US-based convenience store chain 7-Eleven.

The deal helped to cement the company’s position as India’s largest bricks and mortar retailer.

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