Latest News | 22 February 2023

Investor backing set to fuel coffee brand’s expansion

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Independent coffee and lifestyle brand BEAR has revealed plans to open more outlets this year after securing private equity backing.

The Derby-based firm, which currently has five outlets, including two in the city, has won the backing of Clark Group Investments, a private equity investment company based in Poole, Dorset, which specialises in the hospitality and consumer retail industries.

BEAR has said that the partnership will allow it to expand its portfolio of brick-and-mortar stores and further grow its e-commerce platform.

Co-founder Craig Bunting said: “We are thrilled to partner with Clark Group Investments and bring BEAR to the next level.

“Our vision is to become a leading brand within the hospitality and e-commerce sector.

“Their experience in hospitality and retail, combined with their hands-on support, will be invaluable as we continue to grow.”

Clark Group provides financial support, hands-on guidance, and mentorship from industry leaders, offering a combination of equity and expertise.

Its portfolio includes brands such of ThruDark, Wild Nutrition, Press, Bike Shed and Bremont.

Ed Formstone, chief financial officer at Clark Group, said: “We recently invested in BEAR to support them and their ambitious growth plans.

“They have an outstanding management team and an incredible, high quality customer offer which underpins the BEAR brand appeal.

“This will be complemented by the skills of Clark Group as BEAR continues to grow its number of locations.”

BEAR was founded by Craig and business partner Michael Thorley after identifying a gap in the market – specifically in towns and smaller cities around the Midlands – for a destination to enjoy high-quality coffee, premium cocktails, craft beer and fresh food.

As well as its two outlets in Derby – its flagship site in Iron Gate and in Derbion – BEAR also has sites in Staffordshire and Cheshire.

It also previously operated concessions within popular retail locations, such as Jack Wills in Soho and Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road.

The company said that while the challenges brought upon the hospitality by the Covid-19 pandemic slowed its progress, the firm is now ready to take its growth to the next level.

It believes the partnership with Clark Group will allow BEAR to further align its strategy – and “link brick-and-mortar stores with online e-commerce”.

Craig said: “I see an incredible opportunity to build strong relationships with our guests, moving them from loyalty to advocacy.

“We will do this by creating products they can enjoy everywhere, whether in-store, at the office, on the go or at home, which excites me.

“High Streets have struggled for a long time, exacerbated by the pandemic.

“However, I am passionate about investing in our local communities.

“We will do this by using our online platform to drive footfall onto local High Streets and into our neighbourhood stores through a click and collect service, creating the most hospitable e-commerce brand of the future.”

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