Caravan set for further expansion
Caravan, the coffee roaster and all-day dining chain, is looking to open more sites in London, the regions and possibly overseas.
Co-founder Laura Harper–Hinton was speaking at the European Coffee Expo Conference, sponsored by WMF & Schaerer. “I think we have another couple in us in London, and we have been looking outside of London. For me I think it is more exciting abroad, but that is probably because I am from New Zealand.”
Earlier this year, Harper-Hinton told Coffee Business World (February 16) that international opportunities were being explored in New York, LA and Asia.
She admitted that expansion would create some challenges for the business, which is about to open its fifth site in London’s Fitzrovia. But she added that the company was preparing for this expansion by getting the right infrastructure and staff in place with a new financial director – Greg Hinchliffe from Bill’s - and a head of people being appointed. The group will employ 320 staff by July.
“I think that what is happening on the high street and the casual dining sector, which is this perfect storm that everyone is talking about, is not just about rent, but rate rises, the minimum wage going up and food prices going up because of Brexit,” she said.
“I also think it is down to over-expansion - and over-expansion in the wrong way. For us, this is something we are extremely mindful of… we are careful and ensure we have the right infrastructure set-up.”
She said that drinks would be a focus for the business going forward. While food remains “super important”, she pointed to the fact that the operators in the drink sector were performing better than those focusing on food.
“We feel that drinks are a very important component to the business as well as food,” she said.
Three years ago the company decided to take much of its drinks production in-house producing items such as its own sodas and Kombuchas.
It is set to launch a new 8,500sq ft Victorian warehouse with a café, roastery, coffee school, bakery, staff space, quality control and head offices for both the restaurant and roastery businesses in September.
Caravan was founded by Harper–Hinton in 2010, with co-founders, Chris Ammerman commercial director and Miles Kirby chef-director
The aim of the concept was to deliver a "well-travelled" food experience in an all-day-dining restaurant / café concept in London.
- Laura Harper-Hinton is a member of European Coffee Expo's steering panel.
- Pictured at European Coffee Expo with conference interviewer Celeste Wong (blogger - The Girl in the Cafe).