Tesco and Taylor St brew up coffee shop brand
15 August, 2012
Tesco is to swell the ranks of the coffee shop market after taking a minority stake in a new brand, Harris + Hoole, which it now plans to help roll-out.
The business will be run by the Taylor St chain of artisan coffee shops, which currently has eight stores in London. The first Harris + Hoole is due to open in Amersham over the next few weeks, and about a dozen in all are planned for the first wave. Tesco’s involvement will be discreet, since it will not advertise its role in the company, and it has not disclosed the size of its stake in Harris + Hoole—but its size and resources potentially makes the launch a big deal.
The new brand—named after characters recorded by Samuel Pepys—will be run alongside Taylor St’s own business. Its look, designed by the SomeOne agency, suggests an upmarket but understated concept with the emphasis on individual store design.
In a web posting about the tie-up, Taylor St said: “We think there’s a terrific opportunity to bring a better cup of coffee to the high street. So we’ve started up another coffee business called Harris + Hoole with the express aim of doing just that: speciality grade, directly traded coffee trained by properly trained baristas. As luck would have it we found ourselves chatting to Tesco about this and they ‘got it. They understood our vision and were prepared to back us. So they invested in Harris + Hoole.”
It denied that the Tesco deal would compromise its artisan image. “This is a rare opportunity for Taylor St to act as a large business when talking to manufacturers and product developers, while retaining the intimacy and quality of a small business in all other ways.”
Taylor St founder Nick Tolley told the Guardian that it would take a hands-off approach to Harris + Hoole. The Guardian has also reported that talks are progressing to pick up 15 sites from the administrators of failed card chain Clintons.
A spokesman for the supermarket giant told the paper: “We are investing in the entrepreneurial founders of a new venture and taking a non-controlling stake. The Tolley family will decide the business strategy. The coffee industry is growing as a whole and Taylor St is a successful artisan business with a loyal and thriving customer base and we support their vision to bring premium coffee to a wider audience.” But the Guardian thinks Tesco will have a tough job convincing people that it is genuinely interested in an artisan business and not just seeking more profits.
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