Independent cafés see sales rise, but challenges remain

Brits just cannot get enough caffeine, according to new figures which show 74% of independent café owners increased like-for-like turnover in 2015.

The survey, conducted by Caffè Culture Show, also found that 31.1% managed to increase profits by 20% or more compared to 2014, with 24.6% generating an average turnover of over £200,000 per outlet. A vast majority of 92.3% expect growth to continue in 2016 and 36.5% planned to open new outlets.

However, 37.6% said turning a profit was the biggest challenge they faced when they started and 51.6% said they still struggled to turn a healthy profit.

Some 35.4% did not have a formal business plan in place and only 37.6% had a solid weekly or monthly profit or loss reporting system in place.

Meanwhile, 50.5% said coffee sales had been the biggest area of growth, followed by 41.9% citing lunch and 26.8% breakfast. The latte is still leading the pack in terms of coffee options, with 60.2% calling it their best-seller.


When asked about the key trends going forwards, owners overwhelmingly cited free-from and reduced-sugar food and drink products.

Cheryl Carroll, event director at Caffè Culture Show, said: “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.”

John Richardson, coffee bar consultant and Caffè Culture Show speaker, added: “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 hours can bite hard.”

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