Bridgehead’s revenues perk up thanks to more foot traffic, rise in catering business

Bridgehead Ottawa Location

Bridgehead’s revenues jumped nearly 18 per cent in the third quarter compared with a year earlier on the strength of rising foot traffic and new income streams such as catering and pop-up stores, the coffee retailer’s parent company said Monday.

Aegis Brands, which bought Bridgehead three years ago, said the Ottawa-based chain generated revenues of $3.37 million in the three-month period ending Sept. 25, up from $2.86 million a year earlier.

Bridgehead’s same-store sales rose 16.9 per cent year-over-year, thanks in part to increased consumer traffic as more workers returned to their offices over the course of the year as COVID-related lockdowns were lifted. Aegis said menu price increases fuelled by rising inflation also pushed sales figures higher.

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Total coffeehouse sales were up more than 20 per cent to $2.95 million, a boost the company attributed to the opening of its newest store at Carleton University last year.

Aegis said that while foot traffic at Bridgehead’s 19 stores in Ottawa is picking up, the coffeehouse’s efforts to diversify its revenue streams through offerings such as a “new and improved off-premise catering service for nearby offices and event centres” are also paying off.

“Although the sales are going in the right direction and picking up momentum, the Bridgehead team has also been finding new revenue sources within our coffeehouses,” Aegis president and CEO Steven Pelton said in a statement.

But Pelton added that while initiatives such as catering and local vendor pop-ups in Bridgehead stores have boosted the firm’s top line, “downtown Ottawa traffic is still greatly reduced compared to 2019 and will continue to be until the federal government workers return to the office on a more regular basis.”

Meanwhile, Bridgehead’s wholesale business keeps gaining momentum. Wholesale revenues are up more than 22 per cent over the first nine months of 2022 compared with last year.

‘Mainstay in the coffee aisle’

The chain is now selling its coffee at 136 grocery stores in Ontario, up from fewer than 60 in the fall of 2021. Among the food retailers that sell Bridgehead’s products are Costco, Farm Boy, Sobeys and Whole Foods.

“The brand continues to believe that wholesale will be a significant revenue and profit driver as Bridgehead becomes a mainstay in the coffee aisle throughout the province and beyond in the coming years,” the company said.

In another major move, Aegis said Monday it expects to finalize a $50-million deal to acquire restaurant chain St. Louis Bar and Grill later this month.

Founded in Toronto in 1992, St. Louis Bar and Grill now operates 74 locations in five provinces, including five restaurants in the Ottawa area.

“St. Louis provides a strong foundation for Aegis as our first acquisition coming out of the pandemic,” Pelton said, adding the company expects to add more locations “throughout Canada and beyond.”

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