13 April 2018 Courier Weekly

How Propercorn and Pip and Nut took over the supermarkets

PLUS: Ace Hotel in Japan – What3words – European cash – London Coffee Festival

Supermarket sweep: meet the young and hungry food and drink upstarts.

The new issue of Courier landed this week. Our cover story looks at the journey small food brands take to get from kitchen table to supermarket shelf. You can order your copy here.

Increasingly, small food and drink brands are exploring how they can join forces to punch above their weight.

Since we sent our issue off to print, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of meat range The Black Farmer, has launched a food incubator. Three businesses will join ‘The Hatchery’: Eat Life, a nutritious high-calorie range; The Gym Kitchen, high-protein, low-carb ready meals; and Planet Jason, a veggie meats range. The idea is that the young businesses will benefit from pooling knowledge and resources.

Membership organisation Young Foodies is also trying to save small food brands time and money through shared resources. It offers members, which include popcorn brand Propercorn, drinks brand Plenish and marshmallow makers Mallow and Marsh, expert advice, tailored training courses and recruitment services.

Ace Hotel expands into Asia.

Ace Hotel has announced its first Japanese outpost, due to open next year in Kyoto.

It will work with superstar architect Kengo Kuma on the project; his previous work has included LVMH’s Japan headquarters and Tokyo’s Suntory Museum of Art.

The almost 20-year-old hotel brand has been working hard to build its ‘cool’ credentials within the hospitality industry, aligning itself more closely with the likes of members’ club Soho House than its hotelier competitors. Its venues regularly host live music, ‘code-a-thons’ and off-beat art exhibitions. It currently has nine locations across the world, with seven in its US home market.

In related news, women’s fashion blog Man Repeller last weekend ran a pop-up with Freehand New York, a newly-opened hotel in the Flatiron area.

Scrapping the postcode system.

Last week, a UK survey announced that postcodes are ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

Naturally, it’s a problem tech companies are already cracking on with. British startup What3words has created a global mapping system, dividing the world into 57 trillion 3m by 3m squares, each with a three-word reference assigned to them.

What3words has struck a number of deals since launching in 2013. It counts automotive brand Mercedes-Benz and the Youth Hostel Association as clients and this week announced a partnership with South African media brand, Eat Out.

In the latest issue of Courier, we look into how What3words set up its system in Mongolia – where 30% of the population is nomadic – helping to get pizza and products delivered to people’s doors.

Meanwhile, Google has been trying to get in on the game. It recently announced ‘Plus Codes’, a somewhat similar sounding global addressing system that also divides the world into 3m by 3m squares, using a combination of letters and numbers rather than words.

In response to the announcement, What3words’ spokesperson didn’t sound worried: ‘These are not human-friendly. They’re hard to remember, easy to get wrong, difficult to say over the phone and almost impossible to input into voice-powered devices.’

Europe dives into the piggy bank. 

The European Commission pledged a significant amount of cash towards helping startups at its ‘Digital Day’ on Tuesday.

It announced a £260m pot for blockchain-related projects via its EU Blockchain Observatory. The Commission also said it was dedicated to using blockchain to deliver public services, paving the way for startups to start pitching tech services to governments across Europe.

A £1.8bn ‘fund of funds’ was also announced, with the EU contributing £355m to the pot. The rest of the ‘VentureEU’ fund will come from participating venture capital firms in Europe, and will finance a range of sectors from life sciences to energy companies.

The announcements are all part of the EU’s attempt to bring European VC investment closer in line with what’s seen in the US. In 2017, £60bn was invested by VCs in the US, compared to £12bn in Europe (with a significant chunk of that going towards UK companies).

How to make money from coffee.

Courier hosted a discussion at London Coffee Festival yesterday which explored best practices for growing a successful coffee business. On our panel was Courier co-founder Jeff Taylor, Sam Harvey from roaster Allpress, coffee shop brand Grind’s David Abrahamovitch, Carol Deeney from London cafe Deeney’s and Caffeine magazine’s editor Phil Wain.

Here are four key takeaways.

  1. Diversification is key. Diversification gives cafes a fighting chance, with food and alcohol now huge parts of Grind’s business, Abrahamovitch said. Espresso martinis are one of its single highest grossing products.
  2. Have we reached ‘peak coffee’? Harvey said that despite coffee saturation in big cities, there’s still room for growth. For Allpress, their cafes are billboards for people to see how they operate as a roaster.
  3. Location, location, location. Picking the right location – down to the specific street – and understanding real estate is hugely important. Abrahamovitch said he often feels like he is working in the property rather than hospitality business.
  4. Bad staff can kill the business. Deeney cited examples where she took on staff in a panic, gave them the wrong jobs and let them stick around for too long. She advised owners to be brave and not take on employees in desperation. Phil Wain also underlined the importance of good staff, pointing out that if a customer has a single bad experience, there are a multitude of other cafes to turn to.