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THE UK’s biggest Starbucks franchisee saw sales soar despite the pandemic as it invested in drive-through coffee shops and digital platforms.

23.5 Degrees, based at Hedge End, was the American coffee giant’s first franchisee in the world and opened its 85th outlet last year.

23.5 Degrees’ franchised stores locally include those at Hedge End, Southampton’s Town Quay, Havant and St Leonards near Ringwood.

Its annual report and accounts show sales in the year to August 31, 2021, reach £66.7million – up from £35.7m in 2020.

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Profit after tax reached £8.54m after a loss of £2.4m in 2020.

Finance director Luca Contardo wrote: “The year to August 31 2021, heavily affected by the Covid pandemic, presented numerous challenges for the group as it operated within the rules and restrictions introduced by the authorities in order to contain the spread of the virus.

“Nonetheless, the business performed strongly, aided by the government stimulus packages introduced to support the hospitality sector and the wider economy. Operationally, the teams adapted well to ever changing health and safety rules, which saw multiple tiers of restrictions applied across the country for the majority of the year and the business reacting quickly to changes, putting its partners and customers’ safety at the front of decision-making processes.”

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He said the company opened 12 stores in the year – 10 drive-throughs and two in retail parks, creating 479 jobs. The business employed 1,382 staff.

“During the last 12 months the business has invested in its new sales channels, being delivery, mobile order and pay (MOP) and kerbside, which were initially launched in July 2020,” Mr Contardo wrote.

“The directors firmly believe these new channels, together with the drive-through model, were amongst the factors which allowed the business to successfully navigate through the last 18 months.

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“Considering all of the challenges faced by the business in the last 18 months, the directors are delighted with its performance this financial year and with how it has navigated through the turbulent trading environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

23.5 Degrees opened its first store in Liphook in 2013 and bought 16 from Starbucks in 2015, doubling its number of outlets.

By Darren Slade

Source: Daily Echo

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