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COOKS FOOD GROUP BUY OUT ESQUIRES FOUNDERS

by Simon Lord,
last updated 23/04/2014

A New Zealand company has achieved another goal on the route to expanding Esquires Coffee Houses in North America

Cooks Global Foods, the New Zealand company which has been developing the Esquires Coffee Houses franchise chain around the world, has achieved another goal by completing the formalities to acquire the intellectual property rights from Esquires Canada, the company which originally founded the chain back in1993.

Cooks now licenses back to Esquires Canada the right to use the IP to nine Esquires Coffee Houses stores in British Columbia and also for the purpose of a Master Franchise Agreement for Alberta.

The existing outlets will, at least in the short term, continue to report to the original owners under a licence agreement, while Cooks plans to focus on aggressive growth nationwide which will include the construction of a number of new corporate flagships this year and expansion into other Canadian provinces. The company is also known to have its eye on the US market, making no secret of its desire ‘to be like Starbucks – only better!’

Canada would make an ideal base from which to expand into the US, sharing many suppliers with the home of franchising. The Coffee Association of Canada estimates the food service sector coffee market is worth around C$4 billion with between 4,000 and 5,000 independent cafes and coffee shop owners, and several thousand franchise owner-operators.

Everywhere but home

Stuart Deeks, Keith Jackson and Lewis Deeks of Cooks Food GroupCooks chairman Keith Jackson says the deal means Cooks, which already owned the global IP for Esquires, now has established businesses in the UK and Ireland, throughout the Middle East and China as well as in Canada. The only areas currently excluded from its control are, ironically, New Zealand and Australia, which were sold outright to Retail Food Group in 2011 to fund the global expansion.

‘Our strategic objective for Cooks in entering this arrangement is to expand into Canada on our own account building a presence across that market, including in new provinces and territories,’ says Mr Jackson. ‘Because Esquires was founded in Canada, we have excellent brand recognition already in that market so we are keen to capitalise on that by growing the numbers of franchisees.’

More to come

Cooks executive director Stuart Deeks who, with brother Lewis, first brought Esquires to New Zealand, says it is ‘extremely pleasing’ to clinch the Canadian purchase. ‘It’s not only a symbolic step for Cooks; it’s also a milestone as we have successfully concluded our plan to tidy up the international IP outside of Australasia,’ he says.

‘Internationally, we can now get on with growing the business as a world class franchisor – which is exactly what we intend to do,’ he smiles.

Following the opening this month of 4 franchisee-owned stores in the Middle East, the Cooks Esquires outlets will number 81 (outside of Australasia). There are plans to announce two very significant new agreements during the coming few months, as well as significant organic growth from within the system.

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