BusinessCafes and Coffee Shops

Suffolk coffee start-up expands to the Middle East

A Bury St Edmunds coffee start-up is tapping into growing demand for British artisanal coffee in the Middle East by opening its first distribution hub in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Launched in 2007 from managing director Scott Russell’s car boot, Paddy and Scott’s sells its ethically sourced coffee at its own cafés and espresso bars, and supplies hotels – including Marriott Hotels – across the UK. It also exports to Hong Kong, China and Russia via distributors and concessions.

The business has now opened its first distribution hub in Dubai to supply its nitro cold brew and craft coffee to hotels, bars and restaurants across the Middle East.

International Trade Advisers (ITAs) at DIT based in the Middle East conducted market research that Paddy and Scott’s used to adapt its product to appeal to the local market and tastes. This resulted in the business introducing new flavours, such as date, which is popular locally, and altering its ‘tongue-in-cheek’ branding.

Since launching in the region, domestic and overseas product sales have increased by 40%, and in the next two years exports are expected to make up 25% of the company’s sales. The coffee company has partnered with a family of coffee farmers in Meru, Kenya and invests in local schools and farm infrastructure.

Scott Russell said: “We started making coffee that we wanted to drink, hand-packing it and selling it from the boot of our car. The last few years have been incredible in terms of growth, and we now sell enough coffee to make 90,000 cups a day which is enjoyed by people all over the world.

“Exporting was a huge untapped opportunity for us and before working with DIT, our international sales were minimal. The trade advisers helped us to create a clear strategy and showed us what was possible.

He added: “With the backing of DIT it is easier to make overseas contacts, as a foreign business will take you much more seriously. If we can go from start up to multimillion-pound global business with the support from DIT, so can other local businesses.”

Thinley Topden, head of region for DIT east of England, said: “The UK is leading the way in craft and artisanal beverages, and we’re seeing these products become increasingly popular worldwide. Paddy and Scott’s is an entrepreneurial business filled to the brim with ambition. The brand’s ethical credentials and quirky branding have proven popular around the world, and it’s fantastic to see them finding success in the Middle East.

“For businesses across the east of England looking to start or increase exports, we have a dedicated team of ITAs on the ground who can offer a range of support, including practical advice and guidance, training sessions, and introductions to valuable business contacts overseas.”

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