New developments are brewing at Vienna Coffee Company, the Maryville-based retail and wholesale business that specializes in freshly roasted specialty coffees. The company has announced the acquisition of two new brands, Stone Cup Coffee Roasting Company and Fleetwood Coffee Company.
Vienna Coffee Company operates Vienna Coffee House retail locations in Maryville, Knoxville and, as of last April, Oak Ridge. It also distributes its in-house brands to retailers throughout East Tennessee and various other parts of the country.
John N. Clark, who founded the company in 2002, told The Daily Times exclusively that Vienna Coffee had purchased the assets, inventories and intellectual properties of the two Chattanooga-based businesses on Oct. 11. The first real step toward integrating the coffees into its product line was facilitated once their roaster left Chattanooga and arrived at Vienna’s center of operations in Maryville. The first coffee representing those brands was roasted there last week.
Clark said the acquisition of Stone and Fleetwood is part of an ongoing strategy aimed at adding specialty coffee brands to the Vienna Coffee Company portfolio.
He also said that these newly acquired companies not only help expand its reach, but also fortify its overall positioning in the specialty coffee market. Clark said that Vienna Coffee Company currently boasts annual revenues of $3 million, but that he expects that number to grow to $4 million next year due to the addition of the new brands.
As part of the new agreement, Jennifer Stone, founder and owner of Stone and former Fleetwood CEO, joins Vienna Coffee Company as a sales associate charged with new market development. Stone, who possesses a “Q Grader” license, is one of only 1,000 people worldwide certified to evaluate coffee crops at the specialty level. Carl Kimmel, another veteran of the Chattanooga operation, will join Vienna Coffee Company to help oversee product fulfillment and operations. In addition, a new sales associate has been hired and will start with the company next Monday.
All three individuals will work with current sales associate Jessica Hannah and Philip Hatter, Vienna Coffee’s Director of Coffee & Training.
Diversity and distinction
Stone is considered a preferred specialty coffee brand in the Chattanooga market, while Fleetwood, which was founded in 1925, was a vintage product that was stocked on grocery store shelves in the 1940s and ’50s. It was taken off the market in the early ‘70s but reintroduced at the retail level in 2015, primarily in the Southeast.
“It has an appeal for the millennials,” Hannah said. “They’re drawn to nostalgia. However, it’s not only a heritage brand, but an excellent specialty coffee as well.”
It’s popularity is proven. Stone said that Fleetwood Coffee Company is responsible for 10 million cups of coffee a year.
Offering the ability to expand
Clark also said that the purchase will give Vienna Coffee Company immediate access to four varieties of Fleetwood Cold Brew as well as the MoonPie ready-to-drink coffees. He said the Cold Brew coffee products are the fastest growing sector of the beverage market, and that ownership of these brands will allow Vienna Coffee Company to become a significant player in a thriving area of the retail industry.
“These acquisitions will not only help expand our portfolio and geographic footprint, but also give us a value-priced product that can be stocked by larger retailers,” Clark said. Publix and Food City are among the grocery chains that currently carry the Fleetwood line. Current plans call for it to be carried by Costco as well.
“It’s a win-win for all involved,” Clark continued. “Our existing operation gives these companies a better support and service operation, better exposure through social media and quicker turnaround as far as production and product fulfillment.”
He said that Stone’s connections to farmers and producers, as well as her standing within the industry, gives Vienna Coffee Company the ability to purchase products at competitive prices and pass the value on to their customers at the wholesale and retail levels.
Stone, who began her career in the coffee business with three coffee houses in the Chattanooga area, founded Stone Cup Coffee Roasting Company in 1997 and then joined Fleetwood Coffee Company in 2014.
She said that Vienna Coffee’s well-established infrastructure will offer opportunity for providing further exposure to the two brands she represents, while also allowing her to focus on her prime area of interest, specifically sales. “Working in administration prevented me from concentrating on the wholesale sector,” she said.
Clark and Stone said that negotiations between the companies took two years to complete. While each product will retain an individual website for now, the product lines will eventually share a single site once the operation is fully merged.