EasyCoffee arriving in Northern Ireland next year with 12 outlets
Easycoffee - led by Northern Ireland man Nathan Lowry - is to open up to a dozen new outlets here next year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The arrival of the chain, which already has eight units in England, follows a £10m investment in the franchise operation, part of the Easy empire.
But the chain would not say if it's planning to open on the ground floor of its sister brand easyHotel in Belfast city centre.
EasyHotel had been due to open on Howard Street with a cafe on the ground floor, but has run into difficulties over getting the appropriate certification from Tourism NI for its smaller-than-usual bedrooms.
A spokeswoman for easyCoffee said: "They are actively looking for an entrepreneurial franchisee and have several meetings lined up in the coming weeks.
"Once an agreement is in place then the sites will be confirmed. The roll-out is planned for spring 2019 and could be up to a dozen easyCoffee stores/outlets."
Up to 50 vending machines are also being planned for forecourts, gyms and hotels here.
EasyCoffee is a mid-market cafe setup with quirky interiors and prices that are said to be 30% less than its high street neighbours Costa and Starbucks.
Mr Lowry, who is from Co Down, signed a master franchise agreement with Sir Stelios' Easy Group in 2016, adding to his portfolio of two cafes in London's Earls Court and Oxford Street.
Now he plans to up its presence with an additional 200 new outlets added over the next three years.
Its recent £10m investment was agreed with Stellar Asset Management. The figure will allow it to roll out 800 vending machines nationally in the next year.
The investment more than triples the amount secured in earlier capital-raising rounds, said easyCoffee.
Mr Lowry said: "We are excited to move forward with our ambitious growth plans thanks to this significant investment. Vending is a highly profitable business driven by brand recognition.
"This investment is an endorsement that the easyCoffee brand, like its sister brand easyJet, stands for a quality product and service at a value price."