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UK specialty coffee chain BEAR to expand in-store and e-commerce channels

The five-strong UK coffee chain says new funding from private equity firm Clark Group will enable it to open new stores and enhance its bricks-and-mortar and online operations

BEAR plans to open more outlets later this year and ‘link brick-and-mortar stores with online e-commerce' | Photo credit: BEAR


UK-based coffee chain BEAR has received new private equity funding to kickstart outlet expansion plans and enhance e-commerce integration. 

The specialty coffee chain opened its first store in Uttoxeter in 2016 and currently operates five stores across the Midlands region. 

The company said it would use the new investment from UK-based Clark Group to open more outlets later this year and ‘link brick-and-mortar stores with online e-commerce', building upon its online store which launched in June 2018. 

Co-Founder Craig Bunting said the coffee chain is keen to explore beyond its current Midlands stronghold and will use its online platform to drive footfall to high streets. 

The company previously launched in London via a partnership with fashion retailer Jack Wills in April 2019. However, the outlet closed in 2020 after Jack Wills fell into administration during the pandemic. 

BEAR also opened a London pop-up store within stationery chain Paperchase’s Fitzrovia store in February 2020, which closed a few months later due to the pandemic. 

“I see an incredible opportunity to build strong relationships with our guests, moving them from loyalty to advocacy. We will do this by creating products they can enjoy everywhere, whether in-store, at the office, on the go or at home, which excites me. High Streets have struggled for a long time, exacerbated by the pandemic. However, I am passionate about investing in our local communities. We will do this by using our online platform to drive footfall onto local High Streets and into our neighbourhood stores through a click & collect service, creating the most hospitable e-commerce brand of the future,” he said. 

Clark Group, which lists London-based boutique hospitality group Grind among its investments, said its skills will aid BEAR as it grows its store portfolio and help the company become a leading brand within the hospitality and e-commerce industry. 

“We recently invested in BEAR to support them and their ambitious growth plans. They have an outstanding management team and an incredible, high quality customer offer which underpins the BEAR brand appeal. This will be complemented by the skills of Clark Group as BEAR continues to grow its number of locations,” said Ed Formstone, Chief Financial Officer, Clark Group. 

The investment firm has also invested in motorcycling enthusiast brand The Bike Shed, watchmaker Bremont and bottled juice company Press. 

With the size and strength of the UK’s coffee shop market firmly established, World Coffee Portal research shows few signs that consumers are significantly cutting back on out-of-home coffee consumption amid the cost-of-living crisis. 

Project Café UK 2023 forecasts the UK branded coffee shop market will surpass 10,200 outlets in 2024 and exceed 11,600 stores by January 2028.  

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