One of the products which kept Whittards trading during the difficult years of the 1930’s was a tea product ingeniously branded ‘Opportunity Tea’
The business started humbly in 1886 on Fleet Street and grew to a peak in 2005
Sold for £21m, the 130 strong chain had units in many major British cities, as well as the US, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Chile
Trade was brisk on the back of a growing interest in original coffee ( freshly ground for you) and inspiring life style statement peripheral paraphernalia – But by 2007 the model was in melt down, debts of £3.2 m in 2007 were the precursor to going into administration in 2008
Back to 2012 and apparently Whittards remaining 70 odd stores had a successful Christmas… and on the back of this further aggressive expansion is planned
To be honest it looks to me like a house of cards, flaky and insubstantial…
Not a lot of investigation is required to expose the flim flam here… a business with ‘very pleasing’ performance doesn’t normally show like for like sales down 3%… and growth only significantly driven by the international 30 unit strong franchise arm (+52%) and on line sales (+37%)
Perhaps therefore not the best case for a traditional expansion plan… but maybe the Whittards team will surprise us… or perhaps not!
Peddling coffee blends imaginatively stuck in the 1970s with names such as ‘After Dinner’ and ‘Breakfast’ doesn’t bode well… Neither does the fact that the core fresh coffee and gourmet tea offer is obscured by 18 hot chocolate products, 15 flavoured coffee options, 10 soluble coffee variants and 8 different sticky syrups to choose from….
Hey guys, the market has moved on! Growth overseas is pretty much aligned to market trend and also on the positive side reflects the fabulous credential the brand has… On line sales too reflect pretty much the current dynamic… it is on the High Street that the recent decline in like for like sales really signals that the offer is tired, uninspiring and at best c 1995
And of course for us here at Aromo, one of the clearest and simplest litmus tests, is the fact that the business has yet to wake up and smell the freshly ground gourmet ESE pod, pad or capsule offer!
Love them or loath them the reality is that single serve is where the market is…
ESE coffee pods are so simple and so effective…it really should be a ‘no brainer’ to have an ESE pod offering… and yet the buying team are clearly unable or incapable of seeing beyond after dinner coffee or afternoon tea… sad… an opportunity missed or at best waiting to happen