BEAR, the East Midlands based coffee shop operator, has confirmed its partnership with Jack Wills, as flagged up by MCA earlier this month, and said the format could be rolled out across the UK and worldwide.

Managing director Craig Bunting told MCA he was in conversation with the retailer about further sites, which could include Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East.

Bunting said the partnership, set to launch in Spring in Jack Wills’ flagship store off Carnaby Street, Soho, was a strong alignment between the brands’ customer demographics.

He said the retailers’ selection of BEAR as a partner, despite its modest three sites, reinforced its status as an up and coming challenger brand.

BEAR is considering incentives with Jack Wills, such of free coffees to convert online shoppers into in-store customers, which would expose the coffee operator to new consumers.

Bunting told MCA: “The deal we have at the moment is just for Soho, but we are in conversation about other sites, and there’s a wider conversation about global sites if we both want to.

“From a global point of view the world is a lot smaller. Why do you have to be as big as Starbucks to be in international brand? I don’t see why we couldn’t go to Hong Kong.

“For us the partnership anchors down a certain type of customer segment we want to attract.

“We always talk about ourselves as being a UK challenger brand, and going into Jack Wills shows were still part of that.

“There are plenty of other people they could have gone to - it shows were doing something right to attract them.”

He added it was important for operators to approach these retail tie-ups with integrity, rather than as a token gesture, as consumers will see through if it is the latter.

Bunting said the partnership also gave BEAR a chance to enter London without the financial risk of opening their own store.