Buying a coffee shop

How to buy a coffee shop

To celebrate UK Coffee Week …we explore how to buy a coffee shop.

You see them everywhere. Somewhat ubiquitous, the coffee shop is a firm fixture on the UK’s high streets. In fact, it’s a fixture in most places that see footfall from caffeine fiends. From universities to supermarkets, and from leisure centres to motorway service stations, they’re pretty much everywhere. So if you’re thinking about buying a coffee shop close to you, you should have plenty of locations to choose from.

Like any retail business, of course, location is key. High footfall areas will command a premium in terms of rent and rates, but this can be offset by the quantity of trade you’ll see come through your doors. In these busy locations, you’re vying for regular customers as well as those impulse purchases. Buying a coffee shop near to a train station, for example, should see you serving regular commuters as well as once-in-a while train travellers.

But what if the coffee shop you have your eyes on isn’t in a high footfall area? Can you still have a profitable business if you’re not in the most prominent of positions? The short answer is yes. But you might need to think a little differently from the rest. If you’re thinking of buying a coffee shop that’s set away from the crowds, then perversely you need to stand out from the crowd.

Buying a coffee shop that doesn’t rely on passing trade needs a different mindset. It probably needs a different type of coffee too! And it certainly needs to provide an experience that makes it a place worth visiting. The good news is that there are plenty of independent coffee shops out there that get it right. Whether they serve an exclusive roast that hits the spot with real coffee aficionados, or grind their beans to banging beats, they’ll offer the customer an experience that’s worth coming back for.

You’d have to be a hermit not to notice the growth in coffee shops over the last few years. But coffee culture isn’t new to the UK, and the nation’s love affair with coffee shops isn’t as moderns as you might believe. Yes, we’re renowned for being a tea drinking nation – as well as being world famous for our beers. But coffee shops have been around for centuries, and were renowned hotbeds of political discourse as far back as the 17th century.

There’s no doubt, though, that the last couple of decades have seen a significant boost to the barista’s trade. The UK’s high street in the 1980s would have seen the emergence of the branded franchised restaurants then, during the 90s and early noughties, the big coffee shop brands began to make their mark. Buying a coffee shop today gets you a slice of a £9.6bn a year industry, with more than 24,000 stores reported by the end of 2017. The big three of Costa Coffee, Starbuck and Caffe Nero account for 53% of the market place, though. And that’s before you even consider smaller brands that still have multiple sites.

When buying a coffee shop, you have a choice whether to go it alone or buy a franchise. Franchises like Costa often require multi-outlet operators, though, so you could be buying several once you get going. But as an investment opportunity, franchised brands are incredibly lucrative. Plus, as a franchisee, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Instead, you capitalise on all of the marketing clout and buying power of a household name.

Your other option, of course, is going it alone. Whether that’s starting from scratch or buying one of the exciting independent coffee shops for sale in the UK, you have plenty of choice. Get it right and you’ll have plenty of thirsty customers too.

Some people might consider the marketplace a little crowded, whereas other point out that, as a retail outlet, coffee shops are in a good place. Unlike many high street retailers, when buying a coffee shop you won’t see online shopping as a threat. In fact, people who spend their time online often do so in coffee shops. Walk into any coffee shop today and you’ll see visitors huddled over the laptops. They’re much more than just a place to enjoy a latte, a flat white or cappuccino. They’re an office for the freelance generation, a workspace for students and a meeting place for reps on the road.

Buying a coffee shop