| UK

Black Sheep Coffee seeks global expansion following £13m investment

London-based coffee chain aims to grow its store portfolio  to 70 sites globally by the end of 2019, with the company reportedly valued at nearly £110m

Black Sheep Coffee plans to expand in Europe, the US, Middle East and Asia but faces strong competition from a burgeoning  boutique coffee shop segment globally | Photo: John Beans

The coffee chain, which has raised around £25m investment since its inception in 2013, said the new investment would help fund its global expansion across US, Europe, Middle East and Asian markets. Black Sheep currently operates UK stores in London and Manchester and single site in the Philippine capital, Manilla, with the funding round reportedly valuing the chain at close to £110m.

The coffee chain has historically avoided raising cash from private equity firms, with the new £13m investment coming from a group of high-profile private investors, including the first investor in the Spotify music streaming service, Tellef Thorleifsson, and president of Coca-Cola Canada and a board member at Coca-Cola Global, Bill Shultz.

“We have made a conscious effort to stay clear of institutional investors in order to keep our independence and long-term vision for the brand,” said Black Sheep Coffee co-founders and co-CEOs, Gabriel Shohet and Eirik Holth in press statement.

Black Sheep seeks to differentiate itself from competitors with a menu featuring traditionally unfavoured Robusta specialty coffee but it also offers a more conventional menu of single origin Arabicas. The chain operates three store formats, including takeaway kiosks, cafés and a coffee and cocktail concept.  

Black Sheep faces potentially stiff competition from a growing number of boutique coffee shop brands expanding into international markets. In June 2019, Nestle-backed Blue Bottle Coffee opened its first South Korean site and operates 12 stores in Japan alongside its 60+ US portfolio. Australian-inspired brunch and specialty coffee chain, Bluestone Lane, currently operates 60+ stores in the US and recently made its Canadian debut in Toronto.
Black Sheep also plans make its Middle Eastern debut in the UAE, where strong consumer demand, particularly in Dubai, has led to the growth among diverse set of specialty coffee shop brands, including Coffee Planet, % Arabica and the Bull+Roo family of café brands.

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