Belfast Telegraph

Coffee chain founder plans to open 15 new outlets in Northern Ireland

Ulster presence: Harry O’Kelly
Ulster presence: Harry O’Kelly
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The founder of Irish coffee chain Insomnia has said he intends to open 15 more stores in Northern Ireland over the next four years, creating up to 150 new jobs.

Harry O'Kelly's company currently has 151 coffee shops across Ireland and the UK.

Just two of those are in Northern Ireland, including one at the retail forecourt next to Belfast International Airport.

The second is a new store on the ground floor of the CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast.

But the Co Monaghan entrepreneur, who opened his first coffee shop in 1997, said that this is set to change from next year.

The company is understood to be close to securing deals for two new Belfast locations, which could open next year.

Mr O'Kelly said he wants to open 10 outside the city over the next few years, with Newry, Omagh and Enniskillen among the areas he's considering.

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"We're opening between 20 to 25 stores every year," he said. "We've another 17 to open this year in all channels. Next year, our aspiration in all channels - that is, franchise and company owned - is to open 25 to 28 stores."

Mr O'Kelly said the majority of stores are company owned and company managed, including both his Northern Ireland shops.

Insomnia also operates a model based around partnerships and other franchise operators.

There are currently 350 'bean to cup' machines based in supermarkets and other locations.

"Our hope is to develop a portfolio of 15 company owned stores in Northern Ireland over the next three to four years," said the chief executive.

"Our timeline is three to four stores per year over the next three to four years. We're looking at a number of locations currently, and we're at an advanced stage in two of those.

"Belfast is important for us, but we are looking at a number of other towns, from Enniskillen to Newry and Omagh, all the big towns," he said.

"I'm from Monaghan myself and I have a bit of an affinity with the province.

"We have a presence in Letterkenny, Cavan and Monaghan, so for us it's just about having a presence in Ulster, which is important for me," added Mr O'Kelly.

Belfast Telegraph