Publisher Monocle has abandoned its UK Kioskafe franchise plans after admitting that it is “not suitable for franchising”.
When its flagship location opened in Paddington in 2015, it looked to combine the profitability of European-style coffee and pastry cafes with the draw of a 300-strong range of niche magazine titles. It had plans to turn into a franchise model in the UK and overseas, but no franchisees were subsequently found.
Ford Consulting was responsible for Kioskafe’s operations. Its director, Kevin Webley, said the concept for the cafe/newsagent came from Monocle’s editor in chief, Jayson Tyler Brûlé. Webley told RN: “The Paddington store wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t an owner-operated experiment by the brand itself – we found that as a standalone independent operation, it’s not suitable to franchising.”
According to Webley, the reason is the fundamental difference between Monocle’s desired business model and the needs of UK retailers.
“Food sales are good, but aren’t Starbucks level, and the margin on print is very low, so the challenges for independent operators is that it wouldn’t be commercially viable,” he said.
“Unlike a traditional newsagent, Kioskafe has a more limited product range that is controlled by Monocle.
"They wouldn’t be allowed to sell cigarettes or the Daily Mail, The Sun or House & Garden – wide- reaching, high-volume print titles.”
As a result, the company and Ford Consulting has decided to go it alone, with plans to open and directly manage Kioskafe locations in other European locations, including Portugal's capital, Lisbon.
The director explained: “This is not a brand that sits within a shop, and we don’t want to set aside a corner of a shop and put in a kiosk.
“The current strategic route is to work with rail network hub owners here and in Switzerland, as they have prime sites in commuter locations that we think are a better fit.”
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