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NEW CONCEPTS | Staff Reporter, UK
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EXCLUSIVE: Triple Two Coffee eyes up to 80 "COVID-proof" mobile vans

Co-founder and managing director David Hodgetts pulls back the curtain on their new mobile van concept.

Triple Two Coffee is planning to roll out up to 80 vans on the road for their newly-launched mobile coffee concept in the next 24 months, part of a plan to provide a lower-cost franchising model whilst servicing growing demand for off-premise experiences.

"The idea is to create a lower-cost model [that is] more flexible with [franchisees'] work lifestyle; they can control how much they work. But also, it means that their overheads are going to be zero in terms of rental. So it's a low risk," co-founder and managing director David Hodgetts told QSR Media.

The chain, acquired by Cooks Global Foods last year, will initially start with 15 vans this year, citing Cafe2U as a direct competitor in the space. Hodgetts said franchisees' total investment would be £17,500 and value-added tax with total costs likely being similar to other options in the industry.

Having the ability to be agile was also a factor for introducing the new model.

"If somebody signed up today, they don't have to find the property or do the design or any of that process. So they're skipping the slower parts of the process. It will take a couple of weeks for the van to be built, the franchisee will be allocated their location. And basically, then it's up to us, with them, to find them enough business within their area to drive revenue."

Hodgetts cited high streets, business districts, residential areas and event locations as key areas for the coffee vans, also expecting to get a share of customers adverse to dine-in.

"It's sort of COVID-proof. Because whatever happens, it will be able to continue to work."

Plans to execute a mobile coffee concept has been on the chain's purview for a while, but Hodgetts said the takeaway sales that improved over the lockdown accelerated their thought process.

However, Hodgetts said the brand is also looking at doing their own delivery as well, citing "too high" commission rates from Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

"It's actually good for brand awareness, but it's not necessarily just for the bottom line. So we want to try and do some on sales as well," he said.

The vans will be serving a reduced food menu, with sandwiches, salads and notably, sushi, which they plan on rolling out in their traditional stores as part of a larger plan to offer a wider variety of food.

Customers' perception of coffee shops, Hodgetts said, is changing.

"If they could have sushi and a coffee, they would [but] there's just no one that does it very well. So, it's just [a matter of] changing people's habits."

Triple Two Coffee currently has 16 traditional shops, with five more openings expected in the next few weeks, Hodgetts revealed. In total, he expects to open at least 15 more stores this year, eyeing drive-thru locations and residential developments. Opening around 50 stores over the next two years is also a possibility.

"We're just looking at getting better rental deals," he said. "We do need to have a high street presence."

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