On 27 February 2015, Allegra Strategies hosted its seventh UK Coffee Leader Summit at the prestigious Langham Hotel in central London.
More than 150 industry leaders and senior executives from across the vibrant coffee shop and food-to-go sectors attended this event to explore, discuss and debate the key trends currently shaping the marketplace.
This year’s conference took the theme “Transforming the High Street”, addressing fundamental learnings from the Allegra Project Café15 report released earlier this year.
The report, which features survey responses of more than 16,000 consumers, provides a detailed analysis of changes in coffee culture, trends and consumer profiles. This year’s report revealed that the coffee scene has become an integral part of the British high street, growing 10.7% in turnover to reach £7.2 billion in 2014.
Jeffrey Young, Managing Director, Allegra Strategies and World Coffee Portal, began the conference by sharing some key findings from the Project Café Report as he discussed ‘The Paradox of ‘Further’ Growth in a Fast-Changing Market Landscape’.
In his speech, Young made the controversial claim that while the marketplace is dominated by branded coffee shops, we are moving to a coffee connoisseur nation. However, while the standard of coffee is improving, food is not good enough in coffee chains.
Some of the key trends mentioned in Young’s speech included:
• Commercial backing of coffee-focused chains
• Increase in average coffee shop spend
• Artisan café culture becoming the norm
• 60% of people still drink instant coffee
• Location and quality are key to coffee shop success
• 30% of people are passionate about coffee
The focus on “Transforming the High Street” continued with Mark Fox, Managing Director, Starbucks, in his presentation ‘Meet Me @ Starbucks’.
Fox explained that if the coffee scene wants to grow and become more successful, it needs to combine the functional and emotional needs of its customers, something Starbucks outlines in its mission statement ‘to inspire and nurture’. Examples currently being rolled out in Starbucks stores across the UK and US include wireless charging, mobile apps and new decorative stores.
Fox also discussed the new Starbucks at Stansted Airport that is targeting a gap in the market and has started selling hot food and alcohol.
Sarah Doyle, Brand Manager for EAT. was next to the stage to discuss how EAT’s offering has evolved in her talk on ‘Pairing Food with Coffee’.
Doyle spoke about the rebrand of EAT from its simple, organic craft brown origins that focused on fresh food to go, to its current warm, yellow tones that invite people to sit down to eat. During the rebrand EAT. also focused on improving the quality of its coffee and baristas so that people could get high-quality coffee as well as great tasting fresh food.
The day’s eagerly anticipated panel session ‘How Coffee can help us build a Better High Street’ came next with five panellists:
• Mark Fox, Managing Director, Starbucks Coffee Company
• Miles Kirby, Founder, Caravan
• Robert Robinson, Co-Founder, Notes
• Chris Green, Director, Town Planning Services
• Ben O’Brian, Founder & CEO, Sourced
Starting off with a letter to a Norfolk paper criticising the arrival of yet another chain coffee shop on their high street, the panel discussed the importance of coffee shops on local high streets. The panel agreed that coffee shops were integral to the high street, with research showing that 18% of people visit a coffee shop more than once a week.
Ben O’Brien from Sourced was a strong advocate of the emotional connection coffee shops offer in a digital world with the barista-consumer relationship providing welcome interaction and humanity, something Starbucks’ Mark Fox also agreed with.
Moving on to discuss the changing face of the coffee shop, the panel was clear that coffee shops need to innovate and bring some much needed character to high streets that are all starting to look the same. Ideas and suggestions included existing collaborations involving coffee and bicycles, or even cats, and how feasible serving alcohol might be.
Notes Co-Founder Robert Robinson was concerned with the change in atmosphere from café to bar and Chris Green, Director at Town Planning Services admitted that from a planning perspective it can be difficult to comprehend new concepts
However, Caravan’s Miles Kirby pointed out that people’s habits are changing and that Caravan had been successful by ensuring that their later openings were focused on food, rather than alcohol.
After a networking coffee break, it was time for ‘Coffeepreneurs’, the second session of the day that featured three talks from the founders of Benugo, Pod and Abokado.
Ben Warner, Founder of Benugo shared ‘The Benugo Blend of Success’, revealing that 20-25% of their turnover is from coffee alone. He also discussed changing culture, as people now eat less bread, more wraps and salad, but the same amount of cake. He stressed that these changing attitudes also need to be reflected in store design and organisation, to ensure that queuing is quick and simple.
Second to the stand was Tim Hall from Pod discussing ‘Changing Food Tastes in the Coffee Environment’. He explained that back in 2005, health and the environment were huge topics, yet there was no real healthy option for food-to-go. Nowadays, the onus is on freshness and ingredients as customers have come to expect healthy, nutritious food. Hall also mentioned the Pod collaboration with Starbucks to meet the need for good food and coffee across the board.
Mark Lilley from Abokado was the third speaker of the session, sharing his cornerstones to success which he claimed were product, service, property and design. He also shared the Abokado culture of praise, to ensure that staff are happy and feel appreciated.
After lunch, it was back for the third session of the day ‘Outside Insights – Strategy’ featuring Lee Allen, Experience Director from TH_NK, Luke Lang, Founder of Crowdcube and Afroditi Krassa, the founder of Afroditi Krassa.
Lee Allen discussed the growing need for digital to improve personalisation on the high street and take loyalty to the next level, including the use of new technology like Apple Pay and Gnome iPad EPOS.
From a financial perspective, Luke Lang explained how Crowdcube was helping businesses recondition themselves, thus transforming and revolutionising the high street itself.
Afroditi Krassa completed the day with her presentation ‘The Way of the Salmon’, which emphasised the importance of design and her three key points for success: Shared Ambitions, Think like a Salmon and Tell a Story in 360°.
The Coffee Leader Summit 2015 is proudly sponsored by UCC, Solo Cup Europe (now part of Dart Container) and The Handmade Cake Company.
About Allegra Strategies
London-based management consultancy Allegra Strategies publishes the most comprehensive research ever conducted on the European and UK branded coffee shop market: Project Café UK and Project Café Europe.
With 16 years of research experience in the UK and European branded coffee shop market, Allegra Strategies is recognised as the thought leader and the most trusted source of information in the industry.
About Allegra Events
Allegra Events is a young, passionate and fast-growing events company, creating powerful, interactive events that engage and inspire audiences.
Operating across food, retail and lifestyle events, we work with our clients to create meaningful campaigns and event experiences – adding value and driving business performance.
Our tailored event solutions help our clients develop new business relationships and reinforce existing partnerships. Through our portfolio of events we deliver ready-to-action market insight and enhanced networking opportunities, meaning our clients stay ahead of the curve.
Allegra Events is part of the Allegra Group and sister company of Allegra Strategies, a leading strategic consultancy focusing on food, retail and hospitality.
2015 Events Programme
UK Coffee Leader Summit 2015 | 27 February 2015, London
London Coffee Festival 2015 | 30 April – 3 May 2015, London
Amsterdam Coffee Festival 2015 | 15 – 17 May 2015, Amsterdam
European Coffee Symposium 2015 | 24-26 November 2015, Copenhagen