Joe & the Juice bets on growth despite the Covid crisis | Hotel industry


Founded by a Danish karate champion, smoothie chain Joe & the Juice made their way into UK shopping streets, where their pastel pink outlets and drinks with names like Sex Me Up made their way note.

From a juice bar in Copenhagen in 2002 to 300 outlets around the world, the chain plans to double in size over the next few years and is rumored to be preparing for a stock market listing.

Topping his list is the UK, where he plans to add up to 20 outlets next year in addition to the 54 already open, making Britain the biggest market for Joe & the Juice in the world.

Despite its rapid growth, it remains a fraction of the size of competitors such as Pret a Manger, which has more than 300 outlets, despite closing 30 during the pandemic; Starbucks, which has more than 1,000; and Costa, with over 2,000.

The pandemic may have crushed some coffeehouse chains, but Joe & the Juice only closed 10 outlets permanently and was able to secure many new locations as rents fell and competitors scaled back. .

However, managing director Thomas Nørøxe said the group was forced to come up with a menu of creative ideas to attract and retain staff in the battle for workers following Brexit and the pandemic.

“We need 15 new people every week – and we’re not really getting them now,” he says. Five of its outlets in London are temporarily closed due to a lack of staff. Expansion in the north of England is also hampered by the speed of hiring and training young people.

Nørøxe says the company offers perks, including international travel, yoga nights, and “demo” competitions where staff can win prizes for server-style cocktail tips with juicers and ice cubes. The UK also offers a clearer career path to higher income, with business training and regular bonuses to meet company goals.

“In the past we probably depended on a lot of Europeans who worked hard and had fun in London. Now everything is changing, ”says Nørøxe.

A branch of Joe & The Juice.

Joe & the Juice’s experience in the Nordic countries, where salaries have long been higher than in the UK, has helped them cope with the tougher recruitment market emerging in the hospitality industry here.

The company has also become an approved employer under a government visa program that will allow it to recruit 20 bar managers to help train UK staff to boost its expansion. The plan reinforces an existing program where interns can choose to gain experience at juice bars around the world, with discounted accommodation in company-rented “Joe houses”.

Even though it is possible to find young people to power the business, does the UK really need more cafes – even those with freshly made juices with catchy names, porridge and grilled sandwiches? With a Sex Me up apple, passion fruit and ginger drink at £ 5.90, it doesn’t come cheap and cheerful, either.

Founder Kaspar Basse had big ambitions for his brand, taking inspiration from Starbucks. Those dreams were supercharged with support from private equity groups Valedo Partners and General Atlantic in 2013 and 2016. However,

downtown cafes reliant on commuter traffic have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the seemingly longer-term shift to working from home, at least part-time, is likely to make the survival of many of these places more difficult .

The latest Companies House accounts show the UK firm’s pre-tax losses stretched to £ 3.7million in 2019, up from £ 1.2million the year before, despite an increase in sales of 27% to almost £ 24million.

Nørøxe says Joe & the Juice has been partly protected in the pandemic by the focus on wealthy neighborhoods in the UK, such as Richmond, Chiswick and Chelsea in London. These outlets continue to enjoy commerce well above pre-pandemic levels – up a fifth from 2019 – as non-commuters come for a break from the home office.

Nørøxe says that at least before the Omicron variant appeared, sales had returned to 2019 levels in suburban London centers such as Cannon Street and Canary Wharf. Since July, activity in the UK has rebounded, surpassing 2019 sales levels for the year to date in September.

“Cities are coming back in a different way from the old days,” he says.

Part of that change will be digital services that link your local cafe to your phone. Like other sites, Joe & the Juice has launched an app that allows customers to place an order at home so it’s ready when they arrive, while its delivery service now accounts for 20% of UK sales. , having only started just before the pandemic. A subscription service is currently being tested and should see the light of day next year.

An IPO was planned before Covid; showing that the group has a winning formula will be essential to achieve public listing.

Nørøxe admits there is stiff competition – but also optimism – from several of the chain’s rivals about the future of cafes in the post-Covid world. “The fight for new sites is definitely here,” he says.

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