In Focus
FRANCHISING | Kevin Santos, Australia

100 stores in seven years: a look back on Soul Origin's rapid growth

CEO Chris Mavris offers insights on “return on integrity”, franchising strategy, and their outlook for the brand in 2019.

Sustainably-sourced coffee generously flowed for customers who joined Soul Origin’s recent opening in Randwick. But this affair was not one of their usual location openings.

That day marked a special milestone for the rapidly-expanding chain; it was also their 100th store since first opening their doors in Sydney seven years ago.

Looking back on their success, CEO Chris Mavris cites a focus on the “fundamentals of retailing” to their growth.

“Our approach has been to not rush this though; we’ve been patient to find the right people, who not only have the skills and experience to succeed, but who are also a strong fit with our brand values. We have a team that is second to none in the retail space,” he tells QSR Media.

Throughout their expansion, Mavris says Soul Origin remained committed to nurturing their culture and providing the support to customers and franchise partners.

“Offering a nutritious product that people want, that is well-merchandised, well-framed in a contemporary fit out at a presented and affordable price point with quick and personal service has contributed to our success,” he added.

‘We only open stores for the right reason’
Whilst their origins started in 2011, the brand only opened itself to franchising in 2014. A feedback mechanism with partners and focus on scoring the “best” sites and locations, he says, is key to a healthy franchisor-franchisee relationship.

“We only open stores for the right reason. We have a very strict selection criteria which we do not deviate from, even if it means having to pass on opportunities that may other retailers would not.”

Mavris says they ensure support their franchise partners by providing them training on food production and coffee, heavy investment on keeping ingredients fresh and of quality, logistics and distribution capabilities for their manufacturing facility, IT infrastructure and maximising brand awareness.

Another  key messaging for Soul Origin is their commitment to “return on integrity”, which Mavris says is another ingredient to their franchising success.

“From reducing our impact on the environment to what we do with Starlight, our franchise partners love getting out there and doing what they can do make a difference in the community.”

Since reaching the 100-store milestone, they have added five additional stores to their growing network and have launched a new catering menu featuring a range of platters suited for breakfast, lunch and evening events.

Locally, they see Perth, Melbourne and Northern & Central Queensland as areas they intend to focus on next.

“We recently hosted a series of pop-up stores across North Queensland which were very well received. We know there is growing demand for Soul Origin’s fresh nutritious food and excellent coffee right across Australia and we look forward to bringing this to more people in the future.”

Soul Origin recently launched a catering menu. Photo: Supplied

International expansion, meanwhile, has also been on Soul Origin’s mind but Mavris says they have yet to set any firm timeframe or market.

“Our aim is to create a clear strategy around international expansion, being mindful of not drawing resources away from the core business.”

Focus on quality opportunities
Their focus for 2019, Mavris says, will be their search for “high quality opportunities” and “strong locations that will generate value” for them and their franchise partners.

“The number of sites we open in 2019 will be driven by the quality of retail sales growth opportunities presented to us rather than a set number of stores,” he said.

“At Soul Origin, it’s our in-store and support centre teams that are the heart and soul of this brand; they have made all this possible and I am just incredibly proud to help guide such a great team organisation.”

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