Cafe Coffee Day cuts store count by 73% in five years

A lot has happened at the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) since its founder VG Siddhartha tragically passed away on July 29, 2019. Once India’s largest cafe chain, with a peak store count of 1,752 outlets in FY19, the company, part of Coffee Day Enterprises (CDEL), has now slashed its footprint by over two-thirds to 469 outlets in FY23, its latest results show.

The need to manage group debt and ensure that the business is profitable, say experts, has led to CCD shuttering stores over the last few years. The company was not immediately available for comment.

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This has come even as the Rs 5,000-crore domestic coffee retail market is booming, with chains such as Starbucks and Tim Hortons announcing plans to ramp up store count over the next few years.

Consider this: Tata Starbucks, part of Tata Consumer Products, said in its Q4 investor presentation recently that it would introduce learnings from a pilot it ran in 2022, where the focus would be on introducing familiar and more beverage options, a new ‘Picco’ size (which is a smaller size) in beverages, a revamped food menu and more inviting store interiors. All of this was expected to aid sales growth and also help it get into newer markets, the company said of its future growth plans.

Tarun Jain, chief executive officer of Time Hortons India, meanwhile, said that the company was targeting 120 stores in the next three years and on its radar were metros as well as mini metros and satellite cities.

“The out-of-home market is booming after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted last year. And we are seeing this uptick in our stores,” Jain said of the response to Tim Hortons’ cafes in India, which were first launched in August last year. There are over 15 Tim Hortons cafes in the country across Delhi-NCR, parts of Punjab such as Chandigarh and Ludhiana and Mumbai. Starbucks has 333 cafes in 41 cities so far. “While the coffee retail market is growing, in CCD’s case the need to downsize has to do with internal issues. Sometimes a smaller footprint just helps to manage operations better especially when you are dealing with larger problems such as a debt overhang,” says Devangshu Dutta, chief executive officer of retail consultancy Third Eyesight.

Revenue from CDEL’s coffee retail business, which includes the CCD chain, wasRs 1,653 crore in FY19, which was down to Rs 869 crore in FY23. When compared to FY22, however, the revenue from this business has jumped by 75% in FY23, contributing as much as 94% to group turnover for the year. In FY22, the contribution of the coffee retail business to group turnover was 85%, its results showed. Losses in FY23 have narrowed to Rs 68 crore from Rs 112 crore in FY22. In FY19, the company had a net profit of Rs 10 crore.

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Apart from cafes, CCD also has kiosks and vending machines installed in corporate offices, institutions and business hubs. While the number of kiosks has fallen over the last few years and is estimated at 250 now from a peak of 537 in FY19, the number of vending machines are growing after briefly slowing down over the last few years. From a peak of 58,697 crore in FY20, it is now close to 50,000 in number, the company’s latest results show. Group debt too, which stood at Rs 7,214 crore in FY19, is down by over two-thirds to Rs 1,711 crore as on March 31, 2023.

CDEL has over the last few years cut debt by selling assets, experts tracking the market said. Asset sales have included offloading a tech park in Bengaluru to private equity firm Blackstone for Rs 2,700 crore as well as selling off CDEL’s stake in tech firm Mindtree (which has now merged with L&T Infotech) for Rs 1,800 crore. CDEL still has around Rs 1,028 crore of dues to be recovered from Mysore Amalgamated Coffee Estates, a promoter entity, which owed around Rs 2,700 crore to the company five years ago.

A lot has happened at the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) since its founder VG Siddhartha tragically passed away on July 29, 2019. 

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