Way back in Nov 2011 we blogged that one of Birmingham’s independent coffee shops, Cafe Blend was making the brave move of branching out to Manchester. At the time we said history is littered with retail companies who have tried to branch out early but failed. So 12-months on where is Cafe Blend, well it has closed it’s Manchester outlet.
I am quite sure the experience has taught them a lot and shown how difficult it is to expand beyond a single city when you are still tweaking the existing model in your first shop. Having visited the Triangle or Corn Exchange as its now called its quite clear that the location was a major issue, I am surprised anything survives in that building particularly on the lower ground floor where they were. I guess all the closed up shops on that floor are a testament to the lack of footfall.
For me it goes further to justify our decision to wait and build a firm base in Birmingham from which to grow from rather than making the leap early. I am sure when we do make the leap it will be difficult enough but we will have ironed out the model and operational issues so there will be less to worry about.