Notes Coffee Case Study
Why did you choose Gannons?
Edward Halfon, director, explains Gannons had been recommended to us by our NED who had worked with them in the past. We were seeking to establish a relationship with a law firm suitable for helping our young business grow. We knew that Gannons had an excellent understanding of the intricacies of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) which is attractive to investors which was compelling with a fund raising looming.
The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) are UK government initiatives designed to help smaller trading companies raise finance by offering generous tax savings to investors who acquire shares under EIS.
What challenges do you face?
We are collaborating with a number of parties not only to expand and grow our distribution and brand but also to move into new markets such as wholesalers of green coffee. We are working with companies both in the UK and overseas to grow an online platform, distribute our products and licence our brand.
Dealing with overseas companies and distributors who like to keep contracts ‘short and sweet’ has required a high level of commerciality to strike the right balance between the legal side and the commercial deal. It has also involved expert advice as to joint venture structures, confidentiality, brand protection and non-solicitation.
What would you say about working with Gannons?
Edward Halfon feels that the team were fantastic. Our Chairman, James Horler, had worked with Catherine Gannon, managing partner, in the past and knew there was a steady hand at the helm. Charlotte Jackson, associate solicitor, has been dealing with our commercial contracts and is always available for advice and is quick to respond clearly and accurately.
As well as EIS advice and tax knowledge, it’s Gannons’ detailed experience of the real world which sets them apart as a law firm. They have always exceeded expectations to make absolutely sure the deal is done and, as a client, you can really feel the care and attention. As a smaller firm, Gannons are also able to contain legal costs and keep client contact to one or two people who really know your business. This is especially important in the start-up world when you’re on the precipice of something big.
More about Notes
Notes is a collection of coffee shops and wine bars with 10 prime London locations from Canary Wharf, to the City and the West End. Customers are attracted by the all-day offer, which sees the coffee shops transformed into wine bars and artisan eateries every night. With a proven track record, Notes has been growing the business since its inception in 2010. They now sell over 1.4 million cups of premium, speciality coffee a year.
The business was co-founded by Brazil-born coffee champion and barista Fabio Ferreira and Robert Robinson, who ran a coffee cart at Strutton Ground. The two coffee lovers formed a partnership before meeting music shop owner Alan Goulden and starting the first Notes Coffee from his store near Trafalgar Square. Not content with a thriving coffee shop brand, Notes then founded its own roastery in Canning Town. In 2018, the business opened its doors to a very welcome reception from the trade sector, supplying hospitality operators with wholesale premium, speciality coffee. In 2019, the brand continued to innovate, partnering with US-based instant coffee specialists, Voilà, to offer Notes’ premium coffee in an instant format, as well as launching its ranges in biodegradable, compostable coffee pods and Nespresso capsules to consumer and trade customers.
Sustainability and a viable future for our food and drink resources is close to the heart of the Notes team. What looks like a great coffee seller with a premium drinks focus is just the headline act. Behind the scenes, the business cares deeply about fair trade for small-holding coffee farmers and sources beans directly at prices that enable these traditional producers to continue raising crops in the same organic and sustainable way they always have.
Ethics and sustainability have never been higher on the agenda for consumers than they are now. Notes’ commitment to the environment and passion for their coffee shines through and is reflected in the success of the business. In 2015, Notes successfully led a crowdfunding round to raise £900,000 for growth, before a further bid in 2018 smashed its £600,000 target within 36 hours to eventually close at £1.19 million.
The board comprises co-founding directors Fabio Ferreira on product and Robert Robinson on operations; directors Alan and Maria Goulden, music store owners and hosts of the first Notes coffee shop enterprise; hospitality champion and Notes chairman James Horler, also of Ping Pong and a lead investor in Leon Restaurants; director Paul Kempe, an experienced start-up investor and a partner in Tileyard Music, which manages artists such as Ella Eyre and Sigala; Francis Norton of SJ Phillips; board member Lynda Halfon; and strategy director Edward Halfon, previously of Rothschild with a specialisation in the leisure sector, working on the acquisitions of Carluccio’s, Strada and Wagamama.