Franchise chain operator Cooks Coffee is “seeking to acquire synergistic businesses” to help scale up its UK business.
Executive chairman Keith Jackson told British Baker that Cooks – the parent company of Esquires Coffee and Triple Two Coffee – is considering acquisitions, as well as projecting strong organic growth in its existing store network in the UK.
“We are looking for complementary businesses that are synergistic with the existing operations and where we can all benefit from economies of scale that the acquisition might bring,” Jackson said.
“The plan is to create a ‘house of brands’ that can add scale and shareholder value from a base of being ethically responsible and with strong community spirit.”
Cooks Coffee, which was founded in 2008 in New Zealand, switched its focus to expanding revenues from franchised cafés in the UK and Ireland, having restructured its operations and withdrawn from a Chinese joint venture in 2019. It is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and joined the Aquis Exchange in London in November 2022 under the ticker ‘Cook’.
It now has 70 UK cafes, 20 of which are Triple Two branded following its acquisition by Cooks in 2020, and the rest Esquires. It also has 15 Esquires sites in Ireland, one in Portugal and 25 across the rest of the world.
Both brands are set for further UK expansion – Esquires on the high street and in suburban areas in the commuter belt, while Triple Two is targeted at diverse locations, including new residential developments. Jackson wouldn’t reveal projections on future store numbers but an independent report by VSA Capital projected 109 stores between the two brands in the UK by the end of 2024. Cooks has previously expressed general comfort with these projections, Jackson added.
The group is also focused on enhancing digital platforms to build the high growth areas of delivery, app-based loyalty programmes and ordering systems to enhance click & collect capability and the personalisation of the offering.
Both Esquires and Triple Two saw good trading in 2022 in the UK, with store sales up 21% versus 2021, and 62% on pre-Covid levels. 2022 saw pressure to manage the cost of goods and operating costs, Jackson said, with prices raised to offset some of the cost increases.
“We continue to be encouraged by the resilience shown by the UK market and have a strong new store pipeline and are seeing positive like-for-like sales in the existing network,” he added.