Business Profiles

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 22/06/2022


Café Franchise Adds Up

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 22/06/2022


Columbus Coffee is the accountant’s choice to put business experience to good use

Asking an accountant to help you evaluate a franchise opportunity is plain common sense – so when an accountant buys a franchise for themselves, it’s worth taking notice. That’s especially true when they are also experienced entrepreneurs, which is why it’s worth listening to Sharna and Mel Goundar (above), the new owners of Columbus Coffee in Riccarton. 

‘It’s been a full-on few months since we took over in December 2021, but the franchise has been everything we hoped for, and more,’ Sharna says. ‘The numbers certainly added up.’

Sharna was an accountant in Nelson before he and Mel diversified into business with a string of grocery stores. ‘We sold those when I got a managerial opportunity with a Christchurch firm of Chartered Accountants. Then we had our first child, and I started my own accounting firm. After five years, Mel was ready for the stimulation of work once again. We felt that working for ourselves was more important than just working, so we started looking for opportunities that we could run together.’

Despite having no experience in the hospitality industry, Mel had always been a keen cook. ‘We considered many options, including a restaurant, but came to the conclusion that the hours were not suitable, especially with a young family, so our focus moved towards the café scene.’

The more we looked, the more we liked it

By coincidence, the franchisee of the Columbus Coffee in Riccarton happened to be a client of Sharna’s previous accounting firm – and he was looking to sell. ‘We’d always been impressed with the franchise, and the more we looked, the more we liked it,’ says Sharna. ‘What struck us was how different the Columbus approach to its franchisees is – it seemed that support was always available. Nevertheless, we took an accountant’s approach to due diligence and spent three months going through the figures with a fine-tooth comb before we agreed to purchase.

‘The six-week training was very thorough, and our whole experience ever since has been that the whole franchise is very much “hands-on”.  Mel and I know we can call any time and someone will be available to help us sort out any problem, whether major or minor. Tracey Bates, our Columbus Franchise Consultant is awesome, and COO Jon Hassall visits regularly and is on the end of a phone if need be. In fact, I’ve been increasingly impressed with the franchise ever since we started. 

‘Columbus has such good systems, so much knowledge to draw upon, and so much experience of helping people run successful operations. Mel and I may not be entirely conventional operators, but we learned a great deal from our grocery stores so what we do and how we run the café is highly complementary. Mel is front of house and chief chef, and can do anything required on-site. I handle the logistics, rostering and ordering, usually from my office at home. This has worked extremely well and enabled us to reach the high standards that Columbus Coffee is renowned for.’

Uniquely New Zealand

The first Columbus Coffee opened on Auckland’s High Street 27 years ago. Its uniquely New Zealand approach has enabled the franchise to expand in cities and towns nationwide, with 76 cafés across high street locations and in Mitre 10 MEGA stores thanks to a unique partnership with the giant retailer. The brand’s popularity is evident from the fact that over seven percent of the entire population has signed up for the Columbus Rewards loyalty programme – a remarkable fan base.

‘Clearly we’ve built a brand that is as relevant as it is popular,’ says Jon Hassall. ‘Columbus Coffee is bigger, better and more innovative than ever, and by constantly developing initiatives to stay fresh, we have a system with which we can nurture any budding talent. Our formula of supporting our franchisees right the way through their journey clearly works – the fact that Sharna and Mel are able to run a fine business despite having had no previous hospitality experience is proof of that. They believed their experience and talents would go well with the successful Columbus formula, and that’s how it’s turned out.

‘If you are looking for a solid business opportunity, it’s important to choose something you can have confidence in. We have the experience to train and support you to build a business anywhere in New Zealand that you can be proud of. Investment levels start from around $350,000 +gst.

‘While some of our franchisees have a hospitality background, good business skills are just as valuable a qualification for taking on a Columbus Coffee café – as Sharna and Mel’s experience shows. 

‘We have opportunities available right now in many parts of New Zealand, so make the most of your own experience and come and talk to us.’   

See this advertorial on page 59 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 31 Issue 2

Contact details for Columbus Coffee

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