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Welsh coffee business brew up lockdown success as sales soar

One of Wales’ leading coffee roasteries has turned lockdown stress into business success by quadrupling its online sales during the lockdown period.

Coaltown Coffee, based in Ammanford in south west Wales, saw sales with its 275 wholesale customers stop virtually overnight as the UK entered lockdown in March. But the company, which has two café sites and was about to open two more before the pandemic hit, has seen a huge spike in its online sales thanks to a quick response in enhancing its digital presence.

Fast tracking its plans to redevelop its web shop, which was due to happen later this year anyway, Coaltown Coffee has reported a 582% rise in sales in April 2020 based on the same month the previous year. The roastery, which up until lockdown derived the majority of its sales from the wholesale market, accelerated the overhaul of its online retail platform into the space of a week. The company has seen an average of 160 orders a day during lockdown, a 220% increase on average daily orders before coronavirus.

Scott James, founder of Coaltown Coffee said: “Our online presence was established, but we never anticipated the level of traffic increase we saw during this lockdown phase. It’s been hugely encouraging to see how quickly we’ve been able to respond to this as a business, as well as the new market of customers we’ve attracted. We’ve adapted our business aims for 2020, in what should have been the year we opened two further sites, to redirecting our focus towards providing customers good quality coffee that can be enjoyed at home.”

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The company also set out to diversify its offering, expanding its subscription box service by offering rolling subscriptions, gift subscriptions and an ‘espresso roulette’ where the customer is sent a random espresso flavour every week. Coaltown saw its subscription service customer base double in the first three weeks of lockdown.

Scott continued: “We haven’t invested in targeted digital advertising or large-scale social media campaigns during lockdown, but relied on organic marketing through videos and blog content which has helped to raise the profile of the web shop.”

The Drinks Cluster, funded by the Welsh Government, is the body that represents Wales’ alcohol and soft drinks producers. Mark Grant, associate director at Levercliff who leads the Drinks Cluster, commented: “Coaltown are a prime example of a business here in Wales that has faced the challenges of lockdown head on and moved rapidly to ensure it can still make a success of this time. Thanks to streamlining their digital presence efficiently, the company have unlocked new custom and seen their sales soar. Clearly consumers are keen to get their hands on great coffee, even during lockdown.”

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