Joe & the Juice sees opportunity for up to 500 sites in the UK, as it works towards a goal of growing its global estate to 1000 stores in the next five years, CEO Thomas Nørøxe tells MCA.

The juice and food to go specialist has “different levels of ambition” following its acquisition by New York-based General Atlantic last year, according to the CEO. It currently operates more than 360 stores across Europe, the US, and Asia, including c70 in the UK and 49 franchised locations.

“We’re far from a saturation point in the UK,” Nørøxe says. “As we increase brand awareness, we increase our number of opportunities.

“If we can grow to 100 in a market like Denmark, why not 300-500 in the UK?”

His comments come as Joe & the Juice reported a 42% rise in revenue to DKK 2.4bn (£276m) in 2023. New initiatives, offerings, markets, and digital enhancements are all driving sales, according to Nørøxe.

“It’s the decisions we took coming out of Covid that are now being seen in our numbers.

“We’re also now seeing the US market follow the same trajectory as the UK. That’s really helping the results as well.”

Joe & the Juice is opening an average of two equity stores each week – on top of adding to its estate through franchising as well as building the infrastructure to manage more than 1,000 stores globally.

Alongside strengthening its senior management team, the brand is simultaneously focusing on new product development; digital enhancements; new markets; and operations.

“Coming out of Covid, we put a real focus on how we operate,” Nørøxe explains. “We put more people on shifts, which increased transactions, reduced wait times, and kept productivity steady.”

Expanding the breakfast offer

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After building a robust coffee offer, the chain is now expanding its breakfast offer to further capitalise on the morning day part. The company launched its first breakfast sandwich, the Eggcado, earlier this year, building on the success of the Tunacado.

“It’s in the name…joe means coffee. Coffee had always been part of our concept, but we didn’t focus on specialty grade, working with the right roaster, and having good baristas. It goes back to our focus on quality.

“Historically we weren’t as strong in the 6-11am day part. Coffee is really pushing those sales.”

The brand also sees evening demand – particularly through delivery partners – and may develop an evening offer to bolster trade in the future.

The sales mix is now 40% juice, 40% food, and 20% coffee. As the brand amps up product development, it is also trialling kiosks in its home market of Copenhagen. These may be rolled out to certain locations, but human interaction remains important, according to Nørøxe.

The app has nevertheless driven up frequency and sales, he adds.

Growing outside London

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Openings in the regions, including Birmingham and Manchester, have been well received – with many more to come.

“These openings give us a taste for more…those cities have similar potential [to London] in terms of site numbers.”

The brand has similarly proven its offer in Denmark, where it has been well received in both Copenhagen and other regions.

Outside Europe, its franchise partners have begun operating drive-thrus in the Middle East – a format which will be trialled in Denmark in the near future.

“We’ve seen what our partners in the Middle East have achieved with drive-thrus. We have a product that travels well…this will increase our whitespace in the UK.”

There’s also a gap in the drive-thru market for a ‘better for you’ offer like Joe & the Juice, according to Nørøxe.

However, the short-term focus remains on other areas where the brand is underrepresented in the UK, such as shopping centres.

Another approach that has worked well in Denmark is maintaining a presence at events – such as music festivals and fashion shows – an approach that the brand intends to try in the UK and US.

Following the acquisition

For Nørøxe, General Atlantic’s ambitions are “fully in line” with those of the management team.

With a strong partnership in place, Joe & the Juice remains focused on delivering profitability, with sustainability in mind.

“Venturing into new markets takes time and money,” he says. “There’s clear benefits of increasing our presence in markets where we already are.

“We need to be focused on cost increases, but be able to pay market salary and provide other benefits to staff at the same time.

“We come from the Nordics, where sustainability is very high on the agenda. We want to be in the driving seat – that’s in line with what we and our guests want.”

While inflationary pressures have abated somewhat, Nørøxe acknowledges there is consumer fatigue around price increases.

“I still think we have a well-priced product. Our growth is primarily coming from volumes, not prices.

With core markets and newer ones continuing to grow, he’s optimistic for similar growth in turnover in 2024.

“We’re very positive about the future.”