Bridgehead sales down 30% in 2020, parent company says

Tracey and Steve
Aegis Brands CEO Steve Pelton (left) with Bridgehead's Tracey Clark. File photo

Same-store sales at Ottawa-based coffee chain Bridgehead fell more than 30 per cent in 2020 compared with a year earlier as measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 shuttered some stores and reduced traffic in others, the retailer’s parent company said Wednesday.

Aegis Brands ​– which acquired the prominent Ottawa coffee business in January of last year ​– said Bridgehead’s sales in the fourth quarter were down nearly 40 per cent year-over-year. That marked a slight improvement from the 44 per cent dip they took in the previous quarter, “as a result of reduced restrictions in the greater Ottawa area,” the company said. 

Sixteen of the chain’s 20 Ottawa stores were open at the end of 2020.

“The impact of the second wave of the pandemic and subsequent implications for the food service and retail industries continues to impact our stores,” Bridgehead chief operating officer Kate Burnett said in a statement. 

“With restrictions slowly lifting and vaccination plans under way, we are highly encouraged to see customers responding, steadily driving foot traffic and sales back into stores.”

T.O. expansion on hold

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 late last year, the Toronto-based company said it was putting plans to open new stores in the GTA on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, Bridgehead said it’s going ahead with its planned new location at Carleton University this fall as part of a partnership with the Sprott School of Business, adding “it continues to explore exciting expansion opportunities for the brand.”

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