Cooks Global Foods is a food and beverage retail and supply company which has 86 Esquires Coffee stores spanning the world.
That is just the beginning, as Jackson says the company wants to expand to 800 stores by 2020 and become the world’s leading fair trade organic coffee retailer.
Cooks Global Foods purchased the Chinese Esquires Coffee franchise in February and now employs 180 workers there.
This makes it one of the biggest Kiwi employers in China, along with Fonterra and the New Zealand government.
New Zealand trade minister Tim Groser cuts the ribbon for the latest Esquires store that opened in China
Jackson says China has a very positive perception of New Zealand products – it is New Zealand’s largest trading partner.
“We can use that perception of New Zealand as a way to grow the business,” he says. “China has enormous potential, we opened up a shop in a city with 28 million people last year.”
Jackson says the Chinese are traditionally tea drinkers, but coffee consumption is on the rise, growing at about 30 percent per annum.
He runs Cooks Global Foods out of the head office in Auckland and says managing an international franchise from the bottom of the globe has its challenges.
“There are a lot of different cultures and a lot of different expressions of brands. It’s also coping with rapid growth, as we do the designs for the stores from here,” he says.
“Communication is also one, as it’s a bit more challenging than if the store was just down the road.”
He says it’s important to have the right people in the right places with franchising and management.
Cooks Global Foods CEO Keith Jackson
Cooks Global Foods also rebranded in the last year to better showcase its fair trade and organic principles.
Jackson says in the café scene, a third wave of development is coming out of New Zealand and Australia, and Cooks Global Foods wants to take those trends to the world.
“The global coffee scene is growing based on the way the coffee scene in New Zealand and Australia looks and feels,” he says.
He says what’s popular in the café industry right now is an artisan, high quality experience with fair trade values.
Baristas are becoming more like chefs, who have to hone their skills to produce the finest quality product.
As well as this, Jackson says a lot of cafes in Australia in New Zealand are focusing on ambience and décor that makes people feel at home, so they keep coming back.
In places like England, Jackson says the overall retail environment has been growing at 0 to 1 percent, but branded coffee chains have been growing at 10 percent.
“It’s very interesting because cafés are emerging as the third place people go to – their home, their work and their local café,” he says.
“It’s an emergence in cultural change all around the world.”
For the future, Jackson says the company is eyeing up the US and Canada for franchising opportunities, as well as building on their existing locations.
“We’re a niche retailer and that’s what we’re going for. A sustainable, ethical business – we want to be the good guys,” he says.
“The global trends are coming out of New Zealand and Australia and we’re in the position to take those to the world.”