Tuesday 21 September 2021 7:38 am

Black Sheep Coffee: Already seeing office return benefit

A London coffee business with a stronghold in the City has said it is already reaping the rewards of home workers returning to offices.

Black Sheep Coffee plans to double the size of its estate this year, backed by more than £4m in additional funding.

“A lot of our sites are getting really busy now, we have some sites in the City that are busier today than they are pre-pandemic,” Gabriel Shortet, co-founder of the chain, told CityA.M.

The company’s London estate features more than 30 sites, with sites on Fenchurch Street, Bishopsgate and Liverpool Street in the works.

“The City is really the stronghold in London, we’re a big presence,” Shortet explained.

Strong like for like sales growth had been driven by new menu items including smoothies but the coffee boss also pointed to rivals shuttering.

“[Sales going up is] partly because a lot of other operators have either gone bust or haven’t reopened yet. I think there’s less supply in general and so people like us who are open benefit from that, from a sales perspective.”

The company has raised more than £4.4m to help fund its growth plan, which will represent an 81 per cent increase in shop numbers and a 96 per cent increase in pro forma sales. Plans include two franchises in the UK.

“We’re opening throughout the country this year, doubling in size, from Scotland to the South of England. That’s going to come with a myriad of challenges of course but it’s also very exciting. There will be any kind of challenge you would think of in scaling up a business.”

As well as bricks and mortar growth, the company said it had grown its average weekly e-commerce sales by 402 per cent, in a recent investor report.

Black Sheep launched an online subscription model during England’s first lockdown, which led to an outsourcing of fulfillment due to the amount of daily orders. 

The company was “working overtime on hiring and training” as it looks to hire around 250-300 people in the next 12 months to help with expansion.

Shortet said: “Hiring is definitely front of mind for us today. We’re very strict in profiles we look for in baristas, we’re keeping our standards the same so it means we have to work twice as much on hiring. We just don’t want to compromise on the quality of our staff.”