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Independent brand BEAR pivots business in an innovative effort to continue trading through COVID-19

Published On Tuesday 9 Jun 2020 by Sticky Beak
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There's been no avoiding it - COVID-19 has consumed our lives for the past 3 months and drastically changed the world as we knew it. Schools, shops and restaurants have all been forced to close as the world has been working hard to react and adapt to this 'new normal' ; a normal that is centred around keeping ourselves and each other safe.

It's no secret that the impact of this pandemic has taken its toll on national and international economies, a huge part of which is the hospitality industry. With (rightfully enforced) distancing measures in place, the businesses that are built upon socialising and rely on visitors being allowed and comfortable to do so freely are really feeling the pinch. Many businesses are already preparing to make redundancies and close sites in a desperate effort to survive these unprecedented times - in any case, the entire industry is having to review processes and adapt in various ways in order to continue operating safely.

A great example of a business quickly pivoting their original offering to move with the times is the one set by independent Midlands-based brand, BEAR. The team at BEAR spotted a bright opportunity within these dark and tough times; with all 5 of their coffee house, kitchen & bar sites forced to close, the team at BEAR set to work on reinventing the business in line with the new restrictions.

They began by investing in and growing their office-run web-store from just a selection of 4 products with one order every few weeks, to almost a 1000% increase (and growing) in orders each week. The team have even had to take over a disused stock room in the back of their flagship store in Derby just to keep up with stock and orders! Whilst it is clear that this new venture doesn't solve the immediate issues surrounding rent and the viability of their reduced revenue, it does offer stimulation and hope that there is a future if you can navigate to get there. BEAR has also partnered with other local small businesses such as Harriet's Plants and Kip Candle Co. to expand their retail range and spread the support within the indie community.

Craig Bunting, BEAR's Co-Founder, reflects upon the work that he and his team have been doing to maintain momentum:

"These are testing times and really do form part of the key focus on "Building Foundations" that we set out earlier this year. The strength of our foundations now, more than ever, is essential to ensure we get through and build on the brand that we have all worked incredibly hard to create. We never thought this year would have turned out like this, but with shared optimism and hope from our customers and teams, we have challenged ourselves and where possible have adapted to become a better version of ourselves.

It is great to see communities come together, and indie brands build new relationships with each other to truly innovate within retail and hospitality. We couldn't be more proud to be part of such an incredible industry."

Within the past couple of weeks, BEAR have also launched their own branded Nespresso® Pods. This was a big project that the team had been working on for quite a while, prioritised and completed in reaction to the sudden economic downturn.

With the Government announcements of lockdown rules beginning to ease, BEAR are continuing their pivotal journey and now working on launching their new 'take away only' model which is currently live in Uttoxeter, trialling in Derby, and ready to be rolled out across their other sites in the coming weeks. The focus with this new model is a dialled-down, quick-prep food menu that customers can order at the till and walk away within minutes, along with lavish pre-ordered picnic boxes and their usual delicious drinks range which - of course - includes the Midlands' favourite signature speciality coffees as well as a few tasty new summer treats!

The retail and hospitality industries have been overlapping more and more with pop-up coffee houses appearing within retail stores; could we now be seeing a shift the other way with hospitality sites inviting retail to share their spaces?

Whether you're into Nespresso Pods, home brewing or you just want to place an order for a ready-to-go picnic box to enjoy in the summer sunshine, head to shop.bemorebear.co to take a look at the huge variety of goodies that BEAR has to offer.