Northern Ireland coffee shop firm announces £3m tie-in with Next
Ground Espresso Bars in major expansion drive
Northern Ireland's largest independent coffee chain has announced a £3m expansion plan that will see it operate in England and Scotland for the first time.
Ground Espresso Bars, which first opened in Coleraine almost two decades ago, has agreed a deal with Next plc which will see it open eight units within the clothing giant's premises. Ground is taking over units formerly occupied by Patisserie Valerie, which was sold after going into administration.
The units are in Next stores in London, Manchester and Cheltenham. The cafes are expected to be ready for business by the end of the month.
Plans are also being developed to open in four other locations before the end of the summer.
They are at Next stores in Glasgow Silverburn, Stirling, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh.
It is part of an ambitious wider expansion plan that may result in Ground Espresso Bars being opened in more than 50 Next stores in the next two years.
Darren Gardiner, co-founder of Ground Espresso Bars, said: "We are obviously delighted with this development but we feel that it is indicative of the kind of service that we provide.
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"Next feels that we sit very well with their brand and they have identified more than 50 stores where they would like us to come on board.
"The situation is constantly evolving day by day, but we are really pleased to be offered this opportunity. It's such an exciting time to be a part of Ground.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be in the position to not only strengthen our position in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but to also launch our brand into England and Scotland.
"Our partnership with Next plc has gone from strength to strength over the years and we look forward to continued success together and to expanding the amazingly talented teams we have in Ground further throughout the UK and Ireland."
Ground has been working with Next plc since 2012 and is operating a coffee shop at a new Next store at Newry shopping centre The Quays.
The company said it will be taking on new workers to support its expansion and expects to have 400 staff by the end of this year. Since opening in 2001, Ground Espresso Bars has undergone significant growth in Northern Ireland, expanding to the Republic of Ireland in 2015.
The company currently employs more than 300 staff across 27 locations.
Patisserie Valerie went into administration after the discovery of accounting regularities. However, it was rescued in a deal with private equity fund Causeway Capital, with a number of its stores staying open.