DEGANI has placed its long-awaited expansion plans on the boil, with the opening of its first café in Brisbane.

The Victorian coffee chain has unveiled its new store at Calamvale, to accompany locations in Rockhampton, Gracemere and Emu Park.

Degani was founded by George Pezaros in 1999 and has dominated the Melbourne market with 70 cafés across the city.

The company appointed franchising ace Dan Gallo as CEO last year to convert the business model and replicate its success in Queensland.

The brand has an ambitious goal to open another 60 stores across Australia in the next few years, and has received a number of franchise enquiries from visitors at the Calamvale store.

Degani franchise development manager Tanya Kanaris says the response from the community has exceeded expectations.

"We're striking while the iron is hot with Calamvale," Kanaris says.

"I would say that the local support in terms of people wanting to try the product and coming into the store has been overwhelming. It has been really positive and we've had a continuous stream of customers since opening."

The company's approach to growth has been steady and strategic - to challenge Brisbane's coffee stalwarts including Merlo, Di Bella Coffee and Kanaris' former station The Coffee Club.

Degani offers individuality within a franchise model, allowing owners to incorporate their own style and flavours to cater to the local area.

Kanaris says creative freedom coupled with a "contemporary" menu will set the company apart from the competition.

"No two stores are the same and you're always going to get a unique Degani experience when you go into our stores," she says.

"There's always going to be key items on the menu being a franchise brand, as well as good coffee, efficient service and value for money.

"The store is based on the clientele. So with local knowledge the franchisee should be able to hit the nail on the head."

Degani is exploring key locations in south-east Queensland, including the upcoming Market Room at Logan Hyperdome, North Lakes, Toowong Village and Mount Gravatt Plaza.

The Calamvale store will host a community launch event with George Pezaros on May 30.




Theory in practice:

Don't underestimate the value of having a physical presence as an effective marketing tool, with the Calamvale store generating new franchise leads.

"It has given us the opportunity to showcase the product to prospects that aren't actually familiar with the brand but want a franchise in another centre in Brisbane. That's why brands use equity strategies and develop a company around the store so people can try their product," Kanaris says.


Strike a balance between growth and longevity:

The response to Degani has been promising in Brisbane so far and Kanaris says it's vital to build on the brand's popularity for the future.

"While the store is performing really well and every time you take someone there it's full, we're basically trying to get as many people there as possible to sustain the growth. We do that by trying to find experienced café operators who have worked in hospitality before, selling them the business model and ensuring that it's sustainable. We've got a lot of work to do in Calamvale to make sure it's sustainable and a success."


Hard work pays off:

Kanaris says a combination of persistence, shrewd recruitment and careful monitoring will help drive growth in the long term.

"At the moment it's just head down, bum up getting as many stores open in the best locations and making sure our franchise partners are happy. We're not reinventing the wheel from that perspective, it's just making sure that we get it right from the beginning. The brand will grow holistically as a result of that. In the meantime, we've got to develop the growth strategy that goes with it. It's monitoring and assessing what we're doing, evolving from that and making sure we get the key people in the business."


Creative licence:

Kanaris says the Degani franchise model is not a case of big brother and little brother, but fosters autonomy by encouraging owners to contribute during the process.

"We want to involve our business partners right from the beginning. They feel that they're actually getting a say in their investment before they start operating and receiving their returns. We give them the opportunity to contribute to the design, the menu offering, the colours, right down to the visual merchandising. They can have a say and be actively involved in what happens."


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