A year after his Tunbridge Wells shop and café closed, a coffee wholesaler is celebrating his new success online.
Perk and Pearl owner Joe Lloyd told the Times he was sad to leave behind his Grove Hill Road coffee shop, but has since been offering his blends on the brand’s website.
His online store sells bags of coffee featuring 24 flavours which have been imported from all over the world, and he feels that an increasing number of traders could be turning to the web.
The 43 year old said the firm’s turnover is 30 per cent higher than the ‘bricks and mortar’ model he used to specialise in, and there is now a more consistent busy trading pattern throughout the week.
“Sadly, after three years the retail coffee sales took a back seat while I made ground in wholesales of my coffee, which is now sold nationally,” he said.
“It is important for a brand to maintain its position in the marketplace, and some brands feel that selling on Amazon, for example, can devalue your brand as it just becomes a commodity.
“Also, by selling direct you can retain a much better margin and build good relationships with your customers, which instils loyalty.”
He then added: “It’s really important to me that, although we’re an online store, our business operates on a local level. Perk and Pearl is based in Tunbridge Wells and all our coffees are hand-roasted in Kent, which means when buying from us you are buying locally and supporting the local economy.”
The personal focus of the company has helped Mr Lloyd create signature blends for customers that include Café 1809, the Hildenborough eatery famously run by Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes.
Speaking last year, Mr Lloyd said his company had been hit hard by the collapse of Turner Fine Foods, which they supplied.
He said the downside of trading online only is the loss of face-to face interaction – a problem he seeks to overcome by using social media.
The wholesaler continued: “There is definitely a move towards a multi-channel approach, which is being embraced by a lot of retailers.
“Also, there is a trend for brands to cut out the middle man and sell direct to customers.
“But, just because the bricks and mortar model is not right for me, does not mean I don’t value the high street – quite the opposite – but organisations and retailers need to work together to create a exciting and vibrant destination.
“Town centres are slowly starting to evolve into more social spaces, however, a lot of shops have become mere vessels for click and collect.
“This is where independent shops are the winners. They can adapt quickly to changes, and with a broad/unique offer they can keep customers coming back for more.”