February 3rd, 2014 it was announced that Alix Box, a former marketing person for Starbucks (and Holt Renfrew) was brought on to Second Cup as CEO. If you are in the coffee business in Canada, this announcement would force you to take notice, but if you are in the coffee *franchise* business business, this announcement should have you somewhat concerned.
In Vancouver, Second Cup used to enjoy a fairly strong presence around town – at least to the extent that when you said the name most people knew what it was and where you could find one. Over the years, they were slowly ground out of the business as more aggressive local franchise chains overshadowed them and the demand for higher quality drove customers to more boutique options. Many can still remember when Second Cup was ‘the place to meet’ in Richmond Centre until a few years ago when even that location evaporated into thin air. Now there are just three locations in Vancouver – two of which I had no idea about.
But that may soon change.
If there is ever a place in the world a chain can test their coffee skills, Vancouver is it. Perhaps Second Cup will put the gloves back on in Vancouver in an attempt to redeem the territory on which other Vancouver coffee franchises have taken from them. If Second Cup can provide a win-win business model for their Franchisees (while avoiding the Supreme Court), provide a very high quality offering for their customers, launch branding that distinguishes them and replaces their fairly generic flavour, and re-launch with a bang – they have a fighting chance. Vancouverites, if they like your brand, will give their loyalty.