Skeptics of British attempts to succeed in business in America may scoff at Caffe Nero’s plans to build a coffee shop empire in the US but Gerry Ford is having none of it.
Ford, founder, chief executive and chairman of Britain’s third-largest coffee shop chain, is at pains to point out that Caffe Nero, named after the Italian for black coffee and styled on the continental coffee parlours of his youth, is a pan-European, rather than British brand.
“The whole coffee house thing didn’t start in America,” insists Ford, 56. “Starbucks started the more fast food element of it, but Europe has had quality coffee houses with quality coffee for a very long time.
“The Americans looked at what was happening in Europe and tried to turn it into their own version of a convenience food so, to a great extent, we’re bringing the origins of the European model to America. I wouldn’t suggest that the Americans are the ones who started it.”
Still, it takes a lot of chutzpah to launch a coffee house chain in America, which is what Caffe Nero is doing this month with its first US outlet in Boston.
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