Eden Exchange recently sat down with Drew Eide, General Manager of Jamaica Blue. Drew discussed with us the growth journey of Jamaica Blue, its strategic position in Australia’s vibrant cafe and franchise sector and its philosophy for attracting, growing and supporting franchisees. Owned and operated by Foodco, Jamaica Blue is one of Australia’s most successful retail franchise companies. It celebrated its 25th year anniversary in 2017. From its humble beginnings twenty-odd years ago, it now has a growing network of over 170 stores operating in 7 countries.
In this Director Briefing, Drew Eide discusses:
- The growing brand of Jamaica Blue
- Jamaica Blue’s business model
- Market opportunities and trends in hospitality and coffee
- Franchises and owning a Jamaica Blue
Hello Drew, Thank you for this opportunity. First off can you tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to the leadership position at Jamaica Blue?
Sure, I joined Foodco (parent company to Jamaica Blue) in 2011. Prior to this, I held positions in the senior marketing and centre management team in the Westfield Group. During my career, I have held senior roles in Canada, the United States, the Middle East and Australia, specialising in brand strategy and business development.
Could you explain the target market you mainly deal with? What is the size and demographic of your primary audience? What opportunities exist for growth?
The Jamaica Blue target market is primarily female. From a behavioural point of view, Jamaica Blue customers are generally in one of two different modes when they visit;
1. On a mission and need a coffee and light meal quite quickly and as part of a broader routine, or
2. A destination visit with a plan to join friends or family for a meal and coffee.
Despite the differentiating needs both customer groups are looking for a little time out and a chance to rejuvenate and indulge.
“Natural evolution in retail is critical to remain relevant” – Drew Eide, Jamaica Blue Australia
What does the Jamaica Blue Franchise do differently to other hospitality franchises?
At Jamaica Blue, we pride ourselves on the premise of never standing still. Natural evolution in retail is critical to remain relevant. We know that customers change, tastes change, design and food trends change and our brand is no different.
We recognise very clearly that we compete with the best cafés in the world and as such, we have set the bar very high in order to deliver exceptional customer experience and differentiate Jamaica Blue. While we sell great coffee and fresh food, what we’re really selling is an escape and a little bit of time out from the rush of daily life.
Our objective is to continue with our highly successful model and approach, and enhance and evolve when necessary. I strongly believe that this strategy will take Jamaica Blue into the future and deliver longevity, an ownable personality, highlight our Jamaican coffee heritage and accentuate our unique points of difference.
“The game has changed, as have customer expectations” – Drew Eide, Jamaica Blue Australia
What is it that attracts and keeps Franchisees?
A key element of our success is that our shareholders and the majority of our senior management have been with Jamaica Blue since the very early days. This has provided a stable foundation for the long-term growth of our brands. Jamaica Blue has a dedicated, passionate and visionary leadership team which is committed to long term success. The other critical factor is that we focus on accentuating our key points of difference every day.
Furthermore, Jamaica Blue is a dynamic, well-respected and nimble brand with a strong company culture and a heritage dating back to 1989. Jamaica Blue prides itself on a commitment to quality; that is, in terms of our products, training, service, presentation standards, marketing and internal operations. All of our brand systems share strong synergies, which provides for excellent economies of scale. As for our coffee… well, that speaks for itself! Jamaica Blue has recently been recognised with a Golden Bean Award for being the overall Champion in the large Franchise chain category, at the biggest coffee roaster competition in the world.
“Franchisees enjoy the economies of scale and larger buying power generated from the brands under the Foodco banner” – Drew Eide, Jamaica Blue Australia
Starting up a franchise can seem overwhelming for some people, what are the short and long-term benefits of this kind of Franchise opportunity?
Our franchisees are encouraged to inject their own personality into their business. This guidance, teamed with the tools, training and resources made available, empower them to make genuine connections with their customers. Franchisees enjoy the economies of scale and larger buying power generated from the brands under the Foodco banner. All business units are committed to negotiating the best value on behalf of our franchise partners.
Our model allows enough flexibility to ensure our business partners can respond quickly to local conditions and deliver an offering relevant to customers in their area. A good example of this is that no two Jamaica Blue menus are the same. Business viability is also paramount. We have many systems in place to help build success; ranging from tactical sales-building techniques, careful management of controllable costs, and regular workshops. We also host one-on- one training sessions to ensure each franchisee is maximising their opportunities.
“Customers today have so much choice, which is why an average cup of coffee is just not good enough.” – Drew Eide, Jamaica Blue Australia
Melbourne, Sydney and some other cities in Australia take their coffee very seriously. How do franchises compete for the attention of our local ‘coffee snobs’?
Coffee is critical to the overall Jamaica Blue experience. It is highlighted in our logo and is the essence of our brand! Coffee drives loyalty, and the experience our guests receive in-store brings them back as returning customers. We work very closely with our franchise partners to reinforce the importance of this.
Customers today have so much choice, which is why an average cup of coffee is just not good enough. Perfectly prepared, premium espresso coffee is critical; it can make or break somebody’s experience in our cafés. Our goal is to deliver on these expectations each and every day, and we have a process in place that sees we deliver premium quality from crop to cup.
Our Head of Coffee, Jeremy Regan investigates various coffee regions around the world, identifying the highest quality coffee beans to find our next Seasonal Single Origin blend. We also invest heavily in our baristas, delivering training and continued education through our Barista development programs to achieve this.
We are constantly innovating in the coffee space and offer three fine coffees every day at all Jamaica Blue cafés. We also offer Nespresso-compatible capsules and take-home retail coffee packs in our famous Signature Blend. To keep our offer fresh, we introduce an exclusive Seasonal Single Origin coffee with each menu rotation and have recently been recognised for this in the prestigious Golden Bean Awards as the Overall Champion for large franchise chain.
“While great coffee and freshly prepared food is critical – ultimately, we’re finding that our guests are buying a little bit of time out.” – Drew Eide, Jamaica Blue Australia
As General Manager Jamaica Blue, what trends have you seen in the overall food and beverage industry? What are some key trends franchise buyers and operators need to be aware of?
There are so many trends happening in the café industry today and many of them are just that! Independent funky cafés are opening up in non-traditional spaces, cafés are becoming social meeting hubs more than ever before; under 25’s are meeting at cafés far more now instead of alternative meeting places. Baristas are upskilling, turning their passion for coffee into flourishing careers. Cafés are also conducting more workshops, new blend tasting sessions, roasting on-site, cupping sessions and using different brewing methods. The game has changed, as have customer expectations.
For Jamaica Blue, I have to say that we remain wholeheartedly committed to our original guiding principles while evolving as necessary to remain relevant. This guiding philosophy has allowed us to be flexible and creative with different café formats, from fully licensed café-restaurants and in-line cafés, to kiosks and hole-in- the-wall espresso bars. And while great coffee and freshly prepared food is critical – ultimately, we’re finding that our guests are buying a little bit of time out. They want authenticity, fresh produce, the best coffee, freshly prepared food in-store, and a fabulous ambience in a comfortable space. There’s a lot to balance, but we’re constantly striving to not only meet but exceed customer expectations.
How would you describe the longevity of franchising? Is there much chance for personal development, upskilling or promotion?
The franchising sector in Australia is one of the most dynamic in the world and contributes greatly to the economy. There is great longevity in franchising and the sector continues to grow and evolve with a combination of existing systems as well as new and exciting concepts. Personal development and upskilling should be an expectation of any franchise system and frankly that is why people invest in a franchise so that they can learn, develop and grow their own skills.
Finally, what drives you to do what you do? What’s the best part about your job?
Customer satisfaction and of course stakeholder satisfaction is what drives me to do what I do. If we get the customer experience correct and deliver on our promise, the rest will follow. The customer will always be at the heart of everything we do. The best part of my job is leading an innovative and exciting concept that is constantly evolving as well as working closely with and inspiring a dedicated and passionate brand team.
Thanks for speaking with us Drew.
About Jamaica Blue
Owned and operated by Foodco, Jamaica Blue is one of Australia’s most successful retail franchise companies. It celebrated its 25th year anniversary in 2017.
Its simple philosophy, together with empowered and passionate franchise partners are the Jamaica Blue recipe for continued success. From its humble beginnings twenty-odd years ago, we now have a growing network of over 170 stores operating in 7 countries.