Brewed awakening: Bridgehead’s sales rise 20% in fourth quarter

Bridgehead Ottawa Location

Bridgehead’s revenues rose more than 20 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year as the Ottawa-based coffee retailer’s burgeoning wholesale business continued to grow and the return of downtown office workers perked up its in-store sales.

In financial filings released Monday, parent company Aegis Brands said Bridgehead posted revenues of $4.05 million for the three-month period ending Dec. 25, 2022, up from $3.38 million the previous year.

The lion’s share of Bridgehead’s revenue came from its 20 coffeehouses in the Ottawa region. The stores generated sales of $3.5 million, a 19 per cent increase from $2.95 million a year earlier.

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Bridgehead management attributed most of the gains to the gradual return of workers to downtown office buildings that were mostly shuttered earlier in the pandemic. 

The firm said it’s optimistic that the federal government’s move to mandate employees to work from the office at least two days a week will give the chain an added boost in the coming quarters.

“We realize and are realistic about the new landscape of the coffeehouses in Ottawa, however we believe the return to office work is not yet complete,” Bridgehead president Kate Burnett said in a statement, adding the company is looking to “replicate the success” of its location at Carleton University that opened in 2021 “by developing more non-traditional sites.”

Meanwhile, the chain said its wholesale business “continues to progress.” Revenues from wholesale operations rose 31 per cent in the fourth quarter to $376,000 as Bridgehead added new retailers to its network that already includes more than 130 stores, including Costco, Farm Boy, Sobeys and Whole Foods locations across Ontario. 

The company said it’s aiming to forge more sales partnerships in the food service and hospitality sectors in a bid “to find more opportunities to get the coffee into the hands of new customers.”

The chain’s overall revenues for fiscal 2022 increased 21.4 per cent to $13.2 million. Coffeehouse sales were up 25 per cent to nearly $11.3 million on the year, while wholesale revenues jumped 30 per cent to $1.3 million.

On the flip side, Bridgehead’s e-commerce sales fell 28.5 per cent to $632,000 as more customers resumed shopping at the company’s brick-and-mortar locations and grocery stores that sell its beans.

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