Threecaf Brands

Canada Expanding Canada's bakery-cafe market

As you might guess from the name, Threecaf Brands Canada is a company that owns three café-style franchises: Timothy’s World Coffee, mmmuffins and Michel’s Baguette Bakery Café. These well-known brands are dispersed throughout the country and are recognised for their quality products, serving items like coffee, bagels, breads, specialty drinks, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

Headquartered in Vaughan, Ontario, Threecaf is a subsidiary of Vermont-based Bruegger’s Enterprises Inc., operator and/or franchisor of the Bruegger’s Bakery Café chain in the United States. Jim Greco, president and CEO, says Threecaf Brands was formed specifically to be the umbrella for these three Canadian restaurants.

The brands behind the name

To introduce the suite of bakery-café franchises, Greco begins with Timothy’s World Coffee—which was acquired in November 2009. Timothy’s is probably the most familiar, because it’s the largest, with 92 units. “Timothy’s is known for its great international coffees,” he says. “The restaurant offers a chance to explore coffees from around the world in a warm and inviting atmosphere.”

Timothy’s purchases the finest Arabica coffee beans and roasts them at its own coffee roasting facility, located in Toronto. Roasting coffee beans is an exact science, and Timothy’s meticulous roasting and testing practices ensure that each batch is roasted to perfection. The result is premium, specialty coffee with rich aroma and superior quality. Whether it’s a single cup of coffee from a selection of Timothy’s K-Cups, or a pot of freshly brewed coffee, this brand offers perfection in every cup—perhaps that’s why over 100 million cups of Timothy’s coffee is served annually in North America.

“Next is Michel’s Baguette Bakery Café, which has 13 units,” says Greco. “It’s the smallest of the three, but we’re excited about it, because the bakery-café segment is young in Canada. It’s a segment that is well developed in the U.S. and is still growing, but very new in Canada. To our knowledge, Michel’s is the largest bakery-café chain in Ontario.” What makes Michel’s Baguette Bakery Café so noteworthy is dedication to having freshly baked breads and goodies throughout the day—not just the morning. There’s no such thing as stale at any of these locations.

“The last brand is mmmuffins, with 32 units, which is known for its fantastic muffins,” Greco explains. “It’s a specialty bakery that occupies small spaces, and it is a great way for people to get into owning a business.” The store’s on-premise oven allows customers to see and experience the freshness of mmmuffin’s baked goods and produces aromas that attract customers throughout the day. Using the finest high quality ingredients, mmmuffins’ baked products contain no preservatives or additives.

Aggressive growth

With three strong companies to work with, Threecaf Brands is well positioned for continued success. “We’re really excited about aggressively growing these brands, and we are doing that right now,” says Greco. “We have a number of franchisees that have signed up and we are busy looking for sites for them so they can build new units. These new franchisees—about 20 or so—represent all three brands, but the most are future Timothy’s franchisees.”

Along with physical growth and adding new units, Threecaf is also looking to reinvent store design concepts to improve the brands. “We are far along in [the design] process,” Greco maintains. “We have new design renderings for Timothy’s and Michel’s. Presently, we’re doing consumer research on our designs and, later this year, we will introduce the new prototypes. We think it is exciting news. The designs are very different from anything else out there in the respective fields, we are confident the new looks will be inviting to guests and will drive consumer traffic.”

As for mmmuffins, Threecaf built three new co-branded mmmuffins with Bruegger’s, which are in the Greater Toronto Area. “We’re testing them to see how they do; we want to see if we can obtain an average increase in unit volume,” says Greco. “The food and beverage industry has been impacted by the recession, but we have been fortunate. In Canada, we had positive comparable store sales at both Timothy’s and Michel’s for the last several years. Mmmuffins has been a harder case, but the co-branded units are looking to reverse that, which is why we’re excited to roll out more of them.”

Excited about Canada

Threecaf Brands Canada has no plans to add a fourth brand to its trio, and Greco upholds that it is enough for the company to focus on what it already has. “Having said that, we are interested in growing those three brands through acquisition,” he says. “If we can acquire other brands in the bakery-café category, we would do that.”

“The work we have done on product development on all three brands is important,” Greco adds. “There are new products and improvements to quality and taste of some of the existing products.  We have been busy across the menu selection to improve and add to what was offered when we acquired the brands.” As the bakery-café market grows across the country and Canadians enjoy the increasing availability of specialty coffees and snacks, Threecaf Brands will certainly be poised to take a major share in the outcome.