Creating New Beginnings with an Established Brand

The look and feel of sandwich and pastry franchise Croissant Express may be changing, but its offerings are sure to stay the same, as the brand launches its new, upscale café brand, CXpresso.

Croissant Express has built a strong foundation on offering delicious coffee, pasties and sandwiches throughout Perth, Western Australia, and more recently Queensland for 27 years, but according to company CEO, Neil Soares, the brand is ready to head in a new direction. Just last year, Neil launched his new café brand, CXpresso, which is based on the Croissant Express model but offers a more up-market experience and includes hot meal options.

“Croissant Express was born in Western Australia originally and has a proud heritage of 27 years,” Neil says. “We have got about 20 stores in the original Croissant Express group, and over time, we realised that the market was changing and we needed to be a bit more contemporary. So, we took the opportunity to start looking at ways of transforming the brand. We left nothing on the table and decided to rebuild the brand without getting rid of all of the heritage.

Flexible design model

Neil says instead of creating a new design where all new stores would look the same, he decided to leave the model flexible to ensure the dynamics suited the individual location.“Our latest Brisbane store in the Logan Hyperdome has been created to fit effortlessly into the centre’s new ‘marketplace’ environment, but we will tweak the menu and concept for each individual location,” he says. 

“Every site is individual, so I think we will take advantage of the nuances in those locations to bring out the essence of tying into that community while still keeping the core elements of our brand.

Coffee is very much a relationship exchange or transaction. It is not purely an organic transaction where you have no connection with the person in front of you, so the leaders or the franchisees need to demonstrate that skill set.

”The new model suits both CBD and market place locations, according to Neil, who says it caters for both the solo grab-and-go commuter and the larger groups. “We have a model that works really well for us in CBD locations and high convenience locations where we cater to the office crowd and the professional crowd from a catering point of view. That is very much a grab-and-go type of space,” he says. “But we now have a nice concept for a mall-type location where there are two different models that we will take forward, and we will adjust the menu and the look and feel of the store to suit the location.

Customer-oriented franchisees

”As for the type of person Neil is looking for to own a CXpresso franchise, he realises you can teach the administration side of a business, but you cannot teach a person to be customer-focussed. “One of the things that we realised early on in the piece is that we can train technical skills — how to make coffee and how to prepare sandwiches,” he says. 

“What we really look for in our people is people who are really customer-oriented, people who have some key leadership skills and are able to manage a large team of staff. It is not essential that they have business management experience because we can coach them in that area, but what we are really looking for are people who are really passionate about owning their own business, passionate about food, passionate about coffee and, more importantly, passionate about people.”