Piccolo Me co-founder Charlie Hachem will be working with Master Franchisees to facilitate the brand's growth in overseas markets. They're also looking to expand its food offering as they gear to move towards larger spaces with full kitchens to provide a fuller menu and interesting creations from our chef. Below is the transcript of the interview with Hachem.
QSR Media: What's new at Piccolo Me?
We just opened our newest and largest store on the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus, and we're working on getting a few more sites opened before the end of 2017. We've just refreshed our packaging on our coffee cups, coffee capsules and 1 kilograms coffee bags.
QSR Media: What are plans the brand has in the pipeline?
There are a few things we are working on. We are looking to expand our food offering as we're moving towards larger spaces with full kitchens to be able to provide a fuller menu and interesting creations from our chef.
We have received a lot of interest from overseas markets for the Piccolo Me brand and we will be working with Master Franchisees to facilitate our growth in these markets. We’re thinking of brand growth in terms of number of stores and locations as there are many sites which have been presented to us and we're doing due diligence to ensure our brand's success in those sites.
We're looking to add a second store in Melbourne and searching for a flagship location in Brisbane CBD and develop our Franchising division in Support Office. The demand from potential franchisees for sites is growing and we need to be able to service this demand by providing dedicated resources and marketing materials to Franchising.
QSR Media: Where do you see the brand in 5 years’ time in terms of store counts?
Currently, we have 15 stores and our aim to have 20 by the end of 2017. Our growth is slow and steady. We want to make certain that every site is a success, so we're careful with our selection and ensure that financially the site will be viable. In 5 years, we like to see our store count reach 80 stores spread across every state in Australia along with a few sites internationally.
QSR Media: What challenges do you see in the industry?
One of the biggest challenges for us is shifting customer preferences and expectations. Today's customers have higher standards than ever. Concerns about diet and nutrition, food allergies/sensitivities, and sourcing of ingredients are all taking center stage in the minds of consumers. The typical customer today is not the same as the typical customer as early as 5 years ago. Customers nowadays have a very sophisticated world-view when it comes to food and coffee in terms of nutrition, allergy issues and sourcing. It's one of the reason why Piccolo Me's uses Fair Trade Organic coffee as its house blend.
Another challenge is navigating the social media space. Nowadays a brand can live or die based on what is said about them online. For coffee shop and cafe owners and operators, understanding and embracing the different social media forms and staying connected while managing everything else in your business is a big challenge.
Also, growth in the sector means more competition for all cafe owners and operators. The increase in competition will impact revenues and profitability.
Finding good staff is a problem for all employers, but it can be particularly challenging in our industry. The challenge of hiring and retaining staff is always an issue but it is particularly important in our industry because slow or bad service can contribute to revenue loss.
The cost of operating whether it be penalty rates, wages, tax and GST obligations. The challenge of balancing increasing costs with profits gets greater every year.
QSR Media: Any big news for 2017?
More exciting locations and Roy, my brother and co-founder of Piccolo Me, proposed to his girlfriend. So the Piccolo Me family is expanding in all ways!
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