How Gloria Jean's is Winning the Coffee Game
How Gloria Jean's is Winning the Coffee Game

In a thriving coffee segment, Gloria Jean’s is using quality and originality to stand out from the competition

Forgive the terrible pun, but as the restaurant industry remains in a somewhat sleepy state heading into 2018, something has been brewing in the coffee and café segment. In fact, according to industry research firm Technomic, among the Top 500 coffee chains in the United States in 2016, sales reached $24.8 billion, a 9.7% increase from the previous year. The corresponding U.S. unit count increase, up 4.8% from the year prior to 24,391 total units, made the sector the second largest cuisine segment behind burgers.

But even in the midst of a robust and flourishing coffee marketplace, Gloria Jean’s Coffees is separating itself from the competition and seeing incredible growth. With eight new openings in 2017, and seven new locations already in the pipeline for this year, Gloria Jean’s was recently featured in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 at #274 for 2018.

Apart from the overall strength of the coffee segment, much of Gloria Jean’s Coffees recent growth can be attributed to the brand’s focus on the development and support of their franchise partners, as well as the efforts of Director of Franchise Development Laina Sullivan.

“We take a personal interest in each of our franchise partners, letting them know we are with them 100% throughout their life as a Gloria Jean’s franchisee,” said Sullivan. “We provide world class support from real estate and site selection, throughout the construction and buildout of their stores and then turn them over to a savvy Operations team who work with them to insure their success. They are never working alone in their ‘journey’ with us.”

And Sullivan would know about what it takes to nurture a franchise system to sustained success, bringing with her 30 years of experience in franchising with brands such as Supercuts, Yogurtland, T-Mobile, Freeze Frame and Easyriders.

“I’ve opened franchised businesses in most of the major cities around the country, have great contacts within the real estate industry, and understand the demographic makeup of our constantly changing and evolving national landscape,” said Sullivan. “I truly believe non-traditional development and optimizing markets for effective and attainable growth strategies contribute to successful and long term sustainable growth.”

But it takes more than experienced leadership and strategy to see the kind of growth that Gloria Jean’s, with over 900 Coffee Houses in more than 50 territories world-wide, has undergone in recent years. And indeed, it is the brand’s commitment to quality-sourced beans and a legacy of unique flavor innovation that has Gloria Jean’s competition in hot water.

“For nearly 4 decades, we have continued to innovate and have advanced our never ending quest to provide the highest quality coffee with the most tempting flavors,” said Sullivan. “In addition to our Origin coffees, our customers love our specialty flavored coffees such as Blueberry Sunrise, Cinnamon Hazelnut, Toasted Almond Crème, Mocha Merriment, Amaretto, White Chocolate Truffle, Southern Pecan Pie, and Butter Toffee.”

Lizzy Freier, Managing Editor of Technomic, told that unique flavors are just one of the trends that coffee lovers will continue to see in 2018 and beyond.

Said Freier, “As far as trends in the coffee industry, a few to look for are spicy/spiced coffee like turmeric lattes, barrel-aged coffee, plant-based and vegan milk alternatives, cold brew and nitro coffee, and anything Instagrammable or color-forward.”

But while the rest of the coffee industry catches up to the flavor revolution, Gloria Jean’s plans to improve upon its own legacy of innovation at the brand’s in-house roastery in Los Angeles.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees is owned by Retail Food Group, an international food and beverage company with over 2550 outlets around the world. That strong leadership and reputation, coupled with the success and growth of the coffee industry as a whole, has Gloria Jean’s primed for even more franchise growth in the years ahead.

“We seek candidates that fill their life with passion, most importantly with coffee and customer service, have strong leadership skills that can motivate and guide a team and are constantly striving for success,” said Sullivan on the type of franchisees they are looking to partner with. “We pride ourselves in how we treat our customers, always with exceptional service. We greet them by name, have their drink ready when they come into the store, make them feel they’re the most important guest of our day, because they are.”