Realising Retail Potential

Case Study – Solent Coffee

Solent Coffee at Fareham Shopping Centre has been the progression of an idea that started out as an idea to launch an online hobbies and models shop. So, how do you get from an online models shop to roasting your own coffee and opening a café selling your own locally roasted coffee and launching an RMU in a Shopping Centre from there?

Back in 2014 Lee Wilcox decided that he wanted to launch an online models and hobbies store. However, he found that many suppliers would only sell their stock to physical shops, and decided to go ahead with a shop.  He wanted to make his shop unique and had the idea to make his hobbies and models shop a cafe too.  Lee commented, ‘our business ethos is to do everything to the best of our ability, therefore we started to look for a good coffee supplier.  We could have purchased the coffee from the cash & carry, but felt that the quality just wasn’t there. He found a coffee roaster in the North of Hampshire and decided that he would use them.

However, whilst having a coffee at the chosen suppliers one morning, Lee decided that he would try his hand at coffee roasting.  Lee went on to explain, how he then spent the next twelve months spending two to three days a week roasting, gaining the knowledge and experience he needed to be in a position to purchase his own coffee roaster. And On the 1st September 2015, Hobbies and Coffees opened in Gosport, selling their own roasted coffee and models.

The coffee was a success and in April 2016, the café stopped selling the models and rebranded as Solent Coffees.

As part of their planned ongoing expansion, they contacted Space to trade, with a view to taking an RMU at Fareham Shopping Centre. Lee commented, ‘we decided that we had to get our name out to a wider audience. We also had confidence in our product and branding, but didn’t want the expense and overheads of opening another café. Opening in the shopping centre meant that we were able to achieve our goal’.

Solent Coffee would recommend an RMU to other small businesses that don’t have a large budget and are looking to expand and keep costs down.  Lee concluded, ‘it’s a different environment at a Fareham Shopping Centre and a different customer. At the shopping centre we only do takeaway drinks and we have found that with the growth of the coffee culture within the UK more and more people are appreciating quality coffee and want to try something different to the normal high street brands. We have also found that off of the back of people trying our coffee a high proportion of those then buy our coffee beans to brew at home.

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