Coffee chain thriving

23/07/2008 - 22:00

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Franchisor of the Caffissimo coffee chain, Mike Barr, believes a good coffee franchise is all about 'location location', and a viable rent.

Coffee chain thriving

Franchisor of the Caffissimo coffee chain, Mike Barr, believes a good coffee franchise is all about 'location location', and a viable rent.

Caffissimo is one of the fastest growing Western Australian-bred coffee franchises, growing to 25 outlets in five years.

And, it is about to expand to 27, only four less than the number of Dome Coffees franchises in the state.

Mr Barr says he has very strict location criteria to open an outlet, targeting what he defines as 'niche venues'.

"We found a niche in the city centre in office blocks. We have a strict selection criteria," Mr Barr said.

"We don't put people into sites that aren't going to work, otherwise it's going to kill it for all of us. A critical thing in our choice is the rents level," he said.

Having cafes in building foyers was a new concept on St Georges Terrace five years ago, according to Mr Barr.

Caffissimo outlets are now located in the BankWest tower, the AMP tower, the Quadrant and Australia Place, to name a few.

"We managed to find good deals for our franchisees by making the building owner understand that having a café adds value to his building," Mr Barr said.

Opportunities are not likely to run out for the franchise, says Mr Barr.

He believes any new office tower development in the city is a great spot for a Caffissimo, as long as the rent is viable.

Not just confined to office buildings, Caffissimo has also established premises at the WA Art Gallery, the ABC studios and the Canning Vale markets, which was opened last week.

Mr Barr and his wife, Wendy, started their franchise project out of Bonnissimo, a café in West Perth known to roast its coffee beans on the premises.

The couple sold Bonnissimo and set up the Caffissimo franchise, whose point of difference was to serve coffee roasted fresh everyday.

About 150 kilos of coffee beans are roasted daily in Caffissimo's Wembley-based headquarters.

"The coffee side is the driver, the margins are high and there's no waste," Mr Barr said.

"You can sell coffee from the minute you open to the minute you close," he said

The café at Bankwest tower was the first Caffissimo café opened, with another five opened around Perth within the first two years.

The Barrs managed all the cafes for that period to test the concept and its capability as a franchise.

"Running a café is a lot different than running a whole franchise system," Mr Barr said.

According to Mr Barr, the best system for the franchise is to be an owner-operator, in an area that doesn't require to be opened seven days a week.

"When you are owner operator you can do it yourself, but if you employ someone and lose your major staff then you have a problem," he said.

"The last year or so we started to feel the bite of the staff crisis, but it doesn't stop people from taking on franchises," he said.

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