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Food franchises


Esquires Coffee


Dale and Clare Smith run their Esquires Coffee franchise in Durham. Dale spent over 30 years working in the oil and gas industry, and later in project management and consultancy roles, while Clare previously worked as a coronary care nurse and occupational health practice nurse


Why did you choose to go into franchising, and why with Esquires? We looked into lots of different business opportunities and franchising seemed like the best fit for us. We felt like it would be quite isolating starting a business on our own. But with franchising you have that support team and years of experience to help you get going. We did not want to work for a corporate company, with no heart or soul – we wanted to work with real people. A premium product that operated a Fairtrade, organic and ethical business supply chain was also a priority. We wanted to work together, as we had spent long periods apart in our working lives. We met with Esquires, and the rest is history; it ticked all our boxes – Fairtrade, ethical, premium. We all work like a large family, always there to support each other, and one of the main plus points of Esquires is its people, plus we can still operate as an independent.


How immersed are you in the day-to-day operations of your food retail business? Our first goal was to learn the business inside out, making great coffee, food preparation and managing staff and so on, so that we learned all of the steps. We are now pretty good baristas and


“We have a great culture and have built up a great team who work with us as a family. Most of all it’s been fun!”


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make a mean flat white! There was no requirement to do it that way, it is just how we are as individuals. A store manager has now been put in place to allow us to focus and develop the business in other areas.


How has business been so far? One of the best learning experiences in our life. There was a lot to learn but we have built a valuable business. Esquires is now our family. We regularly meet. The


business is an ongoing development. We have worked very hard, but it has been fun, and with the help from Esquires we have run our business independently. We have managed to keep all of our boxes ticked: ethical, Fairtrade, organic. We have a great culture and have built up a great team who work with us as a family. Most of all it’s been fun. We have built a community. We all have worked together.


Describe a typical day… There is no typical day! We're based around a large university campus and so we have a high level of students as well as local residents. We pride ourselves on mixing our community together. We arrive at 8.15am (we open at 9.15am).


Stock delivery arrives around 7am; we put this away, then we turn all our machines on (coffee machine, boiler, dishwasher). Following on from this we bake our pastries and then receive further supplies that come into store around 9am. We then put all of our outside furniture out and put our aprons on ready for open! During the day, we provide excellent customer service and great coffee. The only challenge we find is the dishes!


What has been a highlight? Working with the Esquires team and learning how to make great coffee, watching our business grow with the community and developing relationships with our customers and staff.


What are your future plans? We are currently working with Esquires to become one of their regional developers and focus on growing the North East region.


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