Small Batch Coffee, the Luke Johnson backed artisan small coffee shop chain and wholesaler, has revealed it is relocating to a new unit with eight times as much capacity.
The five-strong Brighton and Hove based group, which Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners bought a majority stake in in November last year, is also developing its own food range and has appointed a head of food.
Small Batch chief executive Nigel Lambe told MCA the company planned to add two or three shops a year in the region, with a sixth branch to open in Worthing in October.
He said it plans to remain focussed on Sussex – with a view to potential national expansion in two or three years’ time.
The company roasts 100 tonnes of coffee beans a year from its current roaster in Hove, selling around half via its five shops and two carts and half through cafes and restaurants - but it has been running out of capacity to meet demand.
The new food range, which was described as a “natural progression” from the current offer of sandwiches and baked goods, will be manufactured at the new unit in Portslade, a space it will share with artisan distiller Brighton Gin, which Lambe is chairman of.
Lambe said: “Our plan is to be still very much focused in the Sussex area for now. Everything will be within an hour’s drive.
“Ultimately we want to keep growing the business. We don’t have any plans for national expansion yet, it will take two or three years to move forward to that position. We’ll see what the market’s like then.
“More and more people want to have really good quality coffee. So I think the number of stores we can put in towns will increase greatly.
“I suspect some of the big chains will over expand and people won’t want to drink that sort of coffee anymore, so we’ll wait and see where the market goes.
On serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson’s involvement in the company, Lambe said: “We’re not growing any faster now Luke’s involved. It was always our plan to expand the business.
“Certainly he’s got some help and expertise on the property side, but our expansion plans remain the same as they were before he joined.
“Luke’s grown so many different great hospitality businesses over the years, so we’re learning from his mistakes rather than making our own.”
Small Batch, which celebrates its tenth birthday this year, has ended its long-term partnership with Brighton-based independent artisan bakery The Flour Pot.
Ben Goldsmith, formerly of West Sussex catering company The Hungry Guest, has been appointed head of food, and is developing Small Batch’s food offer, while Andy Westlake has joined as finance director.
Lambe said he expected the business to employ 100 staff by Christmas.