RFG consolidates Di Bella coffee operations

Nick Hall

Perennial Australian franchisor, Retail Food Group (RFG) is hoping the restructure of its coffee operations will revitalise the group, amidst growing concern over franchise dealings.

The restructure sees the group with a renewed focus on the wholesale sector, following the reposition of its four national and international coffee brands under the Di Bella umbrella.

For RFG, the consolidation of its coffee operations now places its Di Bella brand as the second largest roast and coffee enterprise in Australia, providing much-needed stability and positivity for the group.

Richard Hinson, CEO of RFG said the restructure has allowed the company’s coffee enterprise to become a key business pillar independent of RFG’s Franchise and Commercial growth pillars.

“Di Bella has exceptional growth potential and will be instrumental in RFG’s future success,” Hinson said.

“Coffee is a key part of our DNA, and under the experienced leadership of CEO Di Bella, Darren Dench, will leverage its scale and core capabilities in craft and contract roasting to enter a range of new market segments, to further capitalise on the brand’s strong reputation within the FMCG sector.”

Dench confirmed that the consolidation was the first stage of the group’s growth plan to transform the business from an Australian specialty wholesaler into a global roast and coffee brand.

“We are primed to grow profitably, and scale globally, thanks to this simpler sales model that aligns to key customer segments, an accelerated growth mindset, and a focus on operating efficiency that will build a self-sustaining global coffee business,” Dench said.

According to RFG spokesperson, Richard Forbes, the group aims to strengthen critical operational capabilities under a single leadership team, and implement financial and operational initiatives that improve gross margins and cashflow generation.

“In the future, going forward, our business will be targeting the market for caf_ quality coffee at home and focus on the in caf_ market,” Forbes said.

“We’ll be looking to introduce coffee through different food channels, through hotels or office coffee spaces, but there is a big market out there so we’re quite excited moving forward.”

The wholesale push won’t leave current RFG franchisees in the lurch however; with Forbes suggesting the move strengthens RFG’s current coffee-based franchising operations.

“We provide coffee to our brands, like Gloria Jeans and Michel’s but also to independent cafes, around 1500,” Forbes said.

“A lot of people think we’re a franchising business, but no, we’re a global coffee and vertical franchising industry. Coffee and franchising are the two major pillars of our operation, so we’re really trying to get that change across.”

The announcement comes at a trying time for RFG, who are currently the subject of much contention at the parliamentary inquiry into the Franchising Code of Conduct.

Inside Franchise Business reported last week that the class action lawsuit against RFG had been controversially dropped, however investigations into the group’s franchising operations were ongoing.