Breaking news here exclusively on Sprudge, as Ozone Coffee Roasters International have completed an agreement with Has Bean Coffee to combine ownership of the two companies. Has Bean founder Steve Leighton along with longtime colleagues Dale Harris and Chris Glover-Price will now join Ozone as shareholders in the combined group. The move was finalized on June 29th, 2018.
Ozone Coffee was founded in New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1998 and expanded to London, UK in 2012. It currently operates two cafes—one in London, the other in New Zealand—and services a network of wholesale cafe partners in both countries. A third cafe will open later this year, bringing some 4,000 square feet of curated coffee retail to the city of Auckland. Has Bean was founded in Stafford, United Kingdom in 2002, and as a roaster operates exclusively as cafe wholesale and direct to consumer subscription.
In a statement provided to Sprudge, Ozone Coffee Roasters International Managing Director Craig Macfarlane writes, “Like Ozone, Has Bean has worked hard, over many years, to grow a successful business—one that is built on a family culture and honest relationships. And maybe that’s why this new relationship feels so genuine.” Elsewhere in the statement, Macfarlane outlines that Ozone Coffee and Has Bean will continue to operate as independent brands, with Leighton taking on a new Executive Director role at OCRI, while Harris and Glover-Price maintain their current roles at Has Bean. “We’ve both been operating within the specialty coffee industry for years,” writes Macfarlane, “and in that time the two businesses have developed complementary strengths and expertise. Together, we have some very exciting plans in the pipeline and we’re now in the position to make them a reality.”
In a separate statement also provided to Sprudge, Has Bean founder Stephen Leighton addressed the news, writing, “As of 29 June, Has Bean has become part of the family of Ozone Coffee Roasters International (OCRI) based in Both New Plymouth, New Zealand and London, UK.”
Leighton continues, mentioning his humble roots launching Has Bean at the early dawn of third wave coffee (“I remember the first time I was roasting in the back of my garage and the chimney caught fire…”), and outlining the length of courtship between the two brands. “We have been talking for eight months now,” Leighton writes, “and during that time I have got to know the Ozone team. This has given me the reassurance that we are similar companies in the same market but with different skill sets and different strengths, but most importantly we share the same values. This partnership opens new doors, to projects and new opportunities that we’ve been dreaming about for many years.”
Leighton's new role with a jointly operated Has Bean + Ozone exists outside his ongoing work in the speciality coffee industry. That includes a co-owner role at Drop Coffee in Stockholm, Sweden (reported here in 2015), as well as an investment in Dublin's 3FE, the growing coffee brand founded by Colin Harmon that now includes multiple cafes and a roastery. “Both of these [3FE + Drop] will not cross over to the OCRI,” Leighton tells Sprudge, “and will remain 100% independent and follow their own path.”
In reporting this story Sprudge spoke at length with James Gurr, Director of Projects + Brand for Ozone Coffee Roasters in the United Kingdom. Mr. Gurr offered clarity for us on a variety of points:
- Has Bean and Ozone will continue to operate as independent brands, post-merger, with both brands maintaining their own current lines of packaging and sourcing.
- As to what exactly this was—a merger, an acquisition, or some melange of the two—Gurr offers some clarity. “The whole of the company was acquired but the deal was structured in a way that Steve Leighton, along with two of his long-standing colleagues, Dale Harris and Chris Glover-Price, now join existing Ozone Coffee shareholders as owners of the combined group. Steve will also join the OCRI Executive Team in a newly created role of Director of Coffee.”
- Has Bean's global subscription service will continue under the new arrangement, and Leighton will continue producing original content for his subscribers in the form of his groundbreaking In My Mug video blog (now on episode #504!) and in Has Bean's proprietary Has Blog website.
- There are at the moment no plans for a physical Has Bean cafe location under the new ownership agreement.
“As the UK specialty coffee market is maturing an increasingly competitive business environment is emerging,” Gurr tells Sprudge. “During our discussions over the past eight months we’ve found that Ozone and Has Bean share some exciting long-term goals. This collaboration provides a level of scale that means we can act on these opportunities much sooner than would otherwise have been possible. This move will allow both businesses to get better at what we already do as well as providing the opportunity to diversify and build on what has been created to date.”
Today's news heats up the coffee mergers and acquisitions beat here in 2018, and puts our focus for future news of this stripe squarely on the United Kingdom's white-hot specialty coffee market. Are you sitting on coffee merger news in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter? Get in touch.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.