The train station coffee operator sees the potential to reach 25 outlets within the next five years as commuter footfall slowly recovers following the pandemic
FCB Coffee said there is currently a ‘huge amount of potential in the travel sector’ | Photo credit: FCB Coffee
FCB Coffee is seeking to more than double its UK coffee shop footprint by 2028 and expand beyond the southeast of England.
The coffee chain, which operates 10 stores at train stations across London, East Sussex, Kent and Surrey, said there is currently a ‘huge amount of potential in the travel sector’ which should enable it to reach 25 sites over the next five years.
Speaking to Propel, Managing Director Barney Clevely said FCB Coffee has been hit by sustained rates of remote working and rail strikes across London, but added that commuter footfall is returning to pre-pandemic levels.
According to the UK’s Office of Rail and Road, 990 million passenger rail journeys were made during the 12 months ended 31 March 2022, the most recent reporting period.
The figure represents a 155% increase on the previous year but remains 43% below the 12 months ended March 2020.
“Footfall is down overall, but it continues to slowly come back to pre-pandemic levels, and there is a better spread of business throughout the day now rather than the mad flurry of business in the early mornings that used to happen. We are lucky enough to have a number of great performing sites – Paddington, Denmark Hill and Brighton are our best performing, but all our sites are doing great business and are all valuable parts of our portfolio, with great teams running them,” Clevely said.
FCB Coffee, which partnered with Network Rail in 2020, is planning to open two more sites in 2023, starting with a store at London’s Clapham Junction station in the summer.
While FCB Coffee is setting its sights on expansion, fellow London-based coffee chain AMT Coffee was unable to recover from reduced commuter footfall during the pandemic.
AMT, which operated 44 outlets predominantly within train stations across the UK and Ireland, was sold out of administration to SSP Group in November 2022.
Travel food and beverage operator SSP said it will continue to operate AMT Coffee under its existing branding, with approximately 200 employees retained across 25 locations.
SSP Group itself was heavily impacted by Covid-19, reporting a 85% reduction in travel hub footfall in the first months of the pandemic and full-year 2021 results down 70% compared to 2019.
However, following the adoption of a more flexible operating model and the recovery of business and leisure travel throughout 2022, the UK-based operator reported its UK & Ireland sales returning to 83% of pre-pandemic revenues at the start of this year.
The travel food and beverage operator has forecast its UK business reaching pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023.