Bridgehead revenues soar in Q4 as java chain's stores reopen, wholesale channels grow

Coffee mug

After its sales plummeted due to widespread COVID-related shutdowns in 2020, coffee chain Bridgehead’s business perked up last year as public-health restrictions were eased and locations reopened to in-store traffic.

Parent company Aegis Brands said Tuesday the Ottawa-based food and beverage retailer’s revenues jumped more than 25 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier. 

Bridgehead reported revenues of $3.38 million for the quarter ending Dec. 26, 2021, up from $2.69 million the previous year. Same-store sales rose 19 per cent in the same period despite clampdowns imposed by the provincial government in December aimed at curbing the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The chain’s total sales for fiscal 2021 rose more than 15 per cent year-over-year to $10.9 million. Bridgehead said the biggest boost came from its wholesale division, which doubled its revenues “as a result of a targeted effort to increase sales from that channel.”

Sales at Bridgehead’s coffeehouses increased nearly 18 per cent last year. The chain says the rebound continues in 2022, with sales in the first three months of this year up more than 10 per cent from the same period in 2021 despite the weeks-long protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other measures that disrupted business at the company’s locations in downtown Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Bridgehead says it’s continuing to beef up its digital, e-commerce, wholesale and grocery sales channels. 

The chain recently signed a partnership with a new distributor as it pushes to expand its grocery channel in Ontario and other provinces. In addition, it recently added 31 Longo’s supermarkets in southern Ontario to the growing list of grocery retailers that carry its coffee.

Among the other stores that sell Bridgehead’s products are Costco, Farm Boy, Sobeys and Whole Foods.

“A silver lining from this pandemic is that it has forced us to pivot, evolve and diversify our business,” Bridgehead president Kate Burnett said in a statement. 

“We are no longer just brick and mortar and no longer just selling in Ottawa – we are tackling digital, e-commerce and wholesale and they are delivering exciting results.”

Expanding the Bridgehead brand beyond the National Capital Region was top of mind for former CEO Tracey Clark when she decided to sell the brand to Aegis in late 2019. But the Toronto-based company said the following year it was putting plans to open new stores in the GTA on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Aegis, formerly known as the Second Cup, sold the iconic Canadian coffee brand to Quebec-based Foodtastic last year. At the time, Aegis said it planned to focus on “further development” of the Bridgehead brand as well as its Hemisphere Cannabis operation.