Bailiff Spotted at Blenz-Owned Steamrollers on Broadway Street Vancouver

A Bailiff was reportedly seen ‘dealing with’ the Steamrollers franchised location at 693 West Broadway street at Heather.  Steamrollers is also reportedly owned by Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company.

Earlier this week, further reports claimed that the entire staff had suddenly disappeared overnight and been replaced by new staff.

The previous owners were no where to be seen.

Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company has been facing notable challenges, specifically over the last 24 months including multiple lawsuit filings involving previous Franchisees as well as ex head office employees, not to mention multiple closures of prominent locations.

What Will Replace Blenz Coffee at Pacific Centre?

On May 24, 2014 the VCSFA published an article called ‘Yet Another Prestigious Blenz Closes: Pacific Centre on Granville’  about the sudden disappearance of the landmark Blenz Coffee at Pacific Centre at 609 Granville Street. At that point it was rumoured that another clothing retailer had won the prized retail location ousting Blenz in a similar leasing situation as what occurred at Robson and Burrard. Both of these locations were high volume, and high visibility locations for the Vancouver brand.

For the owners (Franchisees) of these locations, they witnessed the entire value of whatever amount of goodwill they paid for their respective locations, evaporate before their eyes, leaving them with nothing more than whatever street value their aged and depreciated equipment was worth at the moment of loss – Not a pretty picture for their ‘franchise partners’ as Blenz likes to call them.
Some assumed that the loss of these prime locations and subsequent appearance of a new retailer was a deal agreed upon between Blenz corporate, the Blenz Franchisee, and the new retailer. The assumption, namely because there weren’t any indications otherwise, was that perhaps all stakeholders in the deal agreed that these locations were not well suited for coffee. Our new reports reveal that they may have assumed incorrectly and the now-stranded Franchisees may not have been involved in the lease negotiations at all.  Now wouldn’t that be a tad unfair to their ‘partner’?

Blenz Coffee, as do other Vancouver franchises, sets itself up as direct tenant in their commercial leases.  In this common franchise-model arrangement, the Franchisee is then responsible, by means of a sub-lease agreement, for cutting rent cheques directly to the landlord.  The Franchisee assumes this agreement is in place so that the Franchisor (in this case Blenz) can wield their powerful branded sword forcing the landlord into obedient submission resulting in the acquisition of prime retail locations (in this case Robson/Burrard and Pacific Centre) at rates that allow for a profitable business.  A green Franchisee typically does not understand these complex commercial arrangements and therefore trusts their Franchisor to be looking out for their mutual best interest.  In law this is called ‘to act in good faith‘ or ‘responsibility of good faith’.  In the case of Blenz, failing to renew a lease, or failing to secure a lease rate that is competitive and/or reasonable in the marketplace would equate to the fast destruction of the investment.

All eyes are now on Pacific Centre. Will it become another Lulu Lemon situation like at Burrard and Robson where a retailer from a totally separate industry takes over?

If it becomes a clothing retailer, or something completely removed from the food and beverage sector, then Blenz Coffee might be able to explain to this former (and probably rather upset) Franchisee that this location is not well suited for a retail coffee business, or their coffee brand or that the person who won the space had higher profit margins than them and are therefore able to justify doing business in Pacific Centre. It would be difficult for the former franchisee to have enough know-how to fight that battle.

If something like a Tim Horton’s were to open at 609 Granville, the Franchisee would then be able to present a good argument that Blenz Coffee just ‘let’ another similar business come in and ‘take’ their space, leaving them with nothing. However, Blenz might then be able to say something like ‘Well, Tim Horton’s is different. It’s more of a food-based model with cheaper price points – much different from the ideal Blenz customer.’

But if something were to open in the same space like a Waves Coffee, Starbucks, Take Five, Caffe Artigiano, or any other similarly-branded Italian-style coffee shop (especially those our Francouver list) with the standard espresso-based offerings and a few pastries spattered on the side, then the question will quickly become: How hard did Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company negotiate with the Pacific Centre landlord to maintain their prized location and assure the longevity of the Franchisee’s investment?

How hard did Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company negotiate with the Pacific Centre landlord to maintain their prized location and assure the longevity of the Franchisees investment?

If the answer turns out to be ‘not very hard’, then the next logical question would be “why not?”.

But only time will tell as the lease-hold improvements take place behind the boarded up windows at 609 Granville Street.

Yet Another Prestigious Blenz Closes: Pacific Centre on Granville

Blenz Investor Alert: Danger!

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

If you were considering investing in the once powerful and quickly growing Blenz Coffee, and you noticed that they were losing prestigious retail location after prestigious location every few months, you might be wise to do a little extra research.

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

The sudden closure of the Blenz Coffee at Pacific Centre this week is just one of now many in a string of closures over the last 24 months.

You can read all about the different closures here:

Blenz Coffee Bayswater

Blenz Coffee Burrard and Robson

Blenz Coffee St. Paul’s Hospital: It was owned by a Franchisee, then by the Burrard Hotel, then suddenly all signs of Blenz disappeared and they now sell JJ Bean)

Blenz Coffee Cambie @ 17th

Blenz Coffee Hastings @ Howe

But it doesn’t end there.

Another red flag that started waving a few months ago that should have raised a few eyebrows was the sudden and quiet sell off of what was previously their pride and joy: the Library Square Corporate Training Centre where they hosted public events and tried out innovative drink ideas.  Within a flash it had been halved in size and sold off to a fresh new ‘franchise partner’.

Another even more devastating blow to the brand are the growing number of lawsuits against the former Vancouver coffee powerhouse including one filed by a small group of franchisees and another by a previous head office employee.

Will Blenz Coffee be able to pull out of the obvious tailspin?  Will Mark West, be able to save the day?

Stay tuned for more news on Blenz Coffee and other coffee related news.

Blenz Coffee Sells Off Corporate Training Centre at Prestigious Library Blenz

Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD has sold their corporate training centre at Library Square to a new franchisee.  A sign reading “This location has new owners! We look forward to serving you!” was posted on the window.

new-owners

This location was a very useful component to the Blenz brand and had been the location used not only for giving new franchisees (owners) a chance to train with the public before running their own stores, but also for hosting events such as ‘That Barista Thing’.  They also used the location to do dry runs on new products and get feedback from customers.

This location has a challenging history as it was reportedly owned by a franchisee before Blenz took over the location from the upset owner.

Adding to the story of the sudden recent change of hands of this prestigious location is the simultaneous erection of a dividing wall between what was the ‘training side’ (left) and the ‘customer side’ (right) as shown in the this photo:

closed-training

This most serious corporate decision begs the following questions:

  • Where will new franchisees in the Blenz chain get trained moving forward and how will this affect the quality of the training?
  • Has Blenz protected the current owner of this Library Square location from a potentially competing business opening right next store?  There is not hint of what kind of business will be moving in to the former training space.  What if it turned out to be another coffee shop or tea shop?
  • Why did Blenz sell this location?  Did the city of Vancouver charge too much rent?  Our reports show that lease rates in Library Square are some of the most manageable in the city.  There are fewer locations with such a captive audience as library square.

This seemingly silent transaction should prompt franchisees and all stakeholders involved with Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD to be on high alert if this decision was indeed not explained in advance.

As always, send us your industry information and we will be pleased to do a follow up report.  We are here to help.

Another Blenz Bites the Dust: Prestigious Landmark Robson at Burrard Location Gone Forever

Another Blenz Bites the Dust: Prestigious Landmark Robson at Burrard Location Gone Forever

2013 was clearly a tough year for Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD completely losing the prestigious Cambie & 17th and Howe & Hastings locations from its previously expanding chain while experiencing temporary yet unusual and unexplained shutdowns at the Robson & Bute location as well as the Main Street location, not to mention the extremely high number of Blenz current sitting for sale on the world wide webs.  It is also the year that started just months after Blenz made the corporate decision to re-instate previous leader Mark West to steer the Blenz ship – while he remains owner of My Cup Coffee and Tea (currently their website is shown as ‘suspended’ but here is a PDF of the page that was visible until recently: www_mycupcoffeeandtea_com_Franchising_html ) which still competes directly with existing Blenz locations, one location at Georgia and Seymour which chips away at the sales of three different Blenz locations that are steps away.

blenz_closed_01

As if that battle story were not bloody enough for the Vancouver chain, Blenz finished off their year with the colossal and damaging blow of losing their most prized location: Robson & Burrard – One of – if not the – most highly visible and high foot traffic locations in the city.  Although not yet confirmed, it is rumoured that Lulu Lemon will be taking over the location.  The previous franchisee has not been availble for comments yet.  Apparently transparent stretchy pants and yoga gear are well liked by commercial landlords.

blenz_closed_03

Although the economy and ‘coffee saturation’ has been blamed by some for the challenges that franchise model brands like Blenz are facing, it has not seemed to stop corporate chains like JJ Bean and Cafe Artigiano from encroaching on their native territory.

2014 is upon us and it will be most interesting to observe how large number franchise chains like Blenz and Waves play their game.  If 2013 was any indication of the future…

 

Prestigious Blenz Gone

Prestigious Blenz Gone

What’s Going on at Blenz Coffee? Blenz at 4198 Main Street in Vancouver Closes

Brown paper covers the windows of this closed Blenz on Main street in Vancouver

Yet another sudden closure without notice has occurred at Blenz Coffee, this time on Main Street in Vancouver.  Customers in the area reported to us that they were attempting to patronize the location but found the store closed with brown paper on the wall (see photo).

So far we are unable to get details on what is taking place at this location.

This closure is the 4th closure of this type in the last 3 months, following quickly on the heels of Robson and Bute on May 1, and 815 Hastings on March 3, and 3297 Cambie on March 29th.

 

What’s Going on at Blenz: Blenz at Robson and Bute Silently Reopens

On May 1st, 2013 we published an article about how the first ever Blenz location suddenly closed it’s doors.  At some point last week, it was reported to the VCSFA that the doors silently re-opened.  At this point we do not know who the new Franchisees are, and Mr. Kormi remains unable to comment further at this point, and has strongly encouraged us to seek out further details from Blenz head office.

In times past, and at all known locations, Blenz performed a re-opening party where the public was offered free drinks, live music, and munchies to showcase the fact that the location is now under new management.  In this case, there was no such party and detailed information about the new Franchisee has apparently not been released to the chain.  When we asked a few Blenz Franchisees of nearby downtown locations about the closure most were unaware that the store had closed and re-opened until we had asked the question.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

What’s Going on at Blenz Coffee? First Ever Blenz at Robson and Bute Location Mysteriously Closes Doors

Last night Blenz Coffee at the corner of Robson and Bute closed its doors at the usual time. This morning, however, when customers started arriving for their morning coffee they were surprised to find it still closed.

When a few curious people contacted us this morning and asked if we knew what was taking place, or if Blenz the chain was closing down, we contacted the Franchisee, Ali Kormi, who was unwilling to comment further about the situation.  He did confirm that he would not be opening the store today.

What we have learned is that during the summer of 2012, this particular location was closed for nearly two months while it underwent a renovation.  Before and during the renovation staff and customers alike were told that it would take about two weeks to complete – similar to the recent renovation at the Bentall 5 renovation which took well under two weeks and much longer than the Seattle’s Best location takeovers which Blenz was known for completing in a single weekend.  For any retail operation, especially in the coffee industry, each day closed results in notable damages from lost revenue and the loss of the regular customer base as they are forced to change their buying habits during the closure.

This mysterious closure follows just weeks after the closures of 815 Hastings on March 3, and 3297 Cambie on March 29th.

Perhaps most noteworthy about this closure is the fact that Blenz on Robson and Bute was the first ever Blenz location.

You can read more about Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD at this Wikipedia page. *Note: Number of locations appear not to have been updated to reflect recent changes throughout the chain.

Be sure to check back here for updates as they develop.

Blenz Coffee at Cambie & 17th Closes Doors

Early this morning and without notice, customers were surprised to find the Blenz Coffee location at 3297 Cambie Street (17th & Cambie) in Vancouver locked and with Baliffs at the premises.  This event comes right on the heels of the 815 West Hastings closure location a few weeks ago.

At this point we do not have all the details but be sure to check back frequently as we bring you the latest updates on the recent string of sudden store closures happening at Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD.