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No Sign of Slowdown For UK’s Independent Coffee Shops

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No Sign of Slowdown For UK’s Independent Coffee Shops

No Sign of Slowdown For UK’s Independent Coffee Shops
April 18
11:38 2016

It is full steam ahead for the UK’s thriving independent coffee shop sector with owners confident of continued growth. Three quarters (74%) of independent coffee shops surveyed by the Caffè Culture Show, the leading annual event for the UK café industry, saw like-for-like turnover increase in 2015 compared to 2014, with nearly a third (31.1%) reporting an improvement of 20% or more. Nine in ten (92.3%) expect growth to continue in 2016 vs. 2015, with a quarter (24.7%) confident that their business will perform at least 20% better than in 2015. Almost a quarter (24.6%) reports an average turnover of £200,000+ per outlet in 2015.

Owner ambitions for the next two years are clear and the focus is growth. Three quarters (75.1%) plan to increase their customer numbers, 72% to improve their profit margins and over a third (36.5%) to open more outlets. Three in ten (31.2%) plan to invest over £10,000 in their business this year, with equipment (64.5%), interior design and furnishings (50.5%), marketing and staff and training (both 45.1%) the top priorities.

Coffee sales have been the biggest growth area for indie coffee shop owners in the last twelve months (50.5%), followed by lunch (41.9%) and breakfast (26.8%). One in three sells over 500 cups of coffee a week with one in eight (12.9%) selling twice that. Latte is by far the best-selling coffee beverage (60.2%) followed by Flat White (26.2%). Asked to predict the big consumer trends for the coming twelve months, owners overwhelmingly cited rising demand for healthier options like low sugar and ‘Free From’ food and drink products. Advanced coffee preparations like slow water extraction, cold brew and other chilled coffee drinks were also highlighted.

Providing great customer service (29.0%) and the best quality cup of coffee possible (13.9%) matter deeply to café owners, but understandably it’s profitability that matters most (30.1%). Some are doing better than others in this respect. 37.6% say making a profit was the biggest challenge facing their business when starting out, and more than half (51.6%) say making a healthy profit is still a major challenge now.

Despite their ambitious investment plans and confident outlook for growth, over a third of owners (35.4%) admit they have no formal business plan in place for the current stage of their business and less than four in ten (37.6%) have a solid weekly or monthly profit and loss reporting system in place.  Two thirds (67.7%) have no clear exit strategy for their business.

Caffè Culture Show Event Director Cheryl Carroll says: “These findings paint a positive picture of the UK’s buoyant independent coffee shop sector, with no sign of consumer appetite waning.  Growing demand for healthy food and drink options is a trend we’re definitely seeing reflected at the Caffè Culture Show with an increasing number of low fat, low sugar, gluten and allergen-free ranges on offer.”

Best-selling author, coffee bar consultant and Caffè Culture Show speaker John Richardson says: “Whilst consumer demand for independent coffee shops is undiminished, profitability remains a real challenge for owners. The dream of opening a coffee shop is attractive but the realities of juggling employment law, financial management, operational and training systems, and long working long hours can bite hard. Sadly there are many owners who have an unsustainable business model and our focus, along with the Caffè Culture Show, is to provide advice and support to help independent coffee shops thrive.”

According to John Richardson, three essential tips for success are:

* Understand the numbers. Know, to the pence, the costings of every item on the menu and exactly how much money is being made on a weekly or monthly basis.

* Focus relentlessly on what the customer wants and give it to them. Use this knowledge to drive average sales up at each of the four key time areas – breakfast, morning, lunch and afternoon. Ensure what the customer sees fundamentally changes during each of these phases.

* Build systems as quickly and effectively as possible. When something goes wrong, amend the system, then improve processes and training to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t waste energy getting frustrated or blaming employees.

Leading industry figures, including John Richardson, will be tackling common business problems facing independent coffee shops at The Caffè Culture Show at London Olympia, 10-11 May 2016. Free ticket registration is now open at www.caffecultureshow.com/register.

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