I Love My Independent, Sorry, Tesco

Quote: “Support your local independent.”

Love independents and hate the “high-street killers” such as Tesco? It’s common nowadays to see posters in your village or town telling you to “buy local” or “support your community”. So how do you feel about your “independent” coffee shop being funded by Tesco?

Well, I experienced one such place: Harris & Hoole in Twickenham. Set up and run by three siblings, “Their vision is to bring great tasting speciality coffee to the high street.” http://www.harrisandhoole.co.uk. With coffee shops from Brighton to London they have been brewing their way around the country; spreading their coffee passion to the nation. This charmingly quirky independent offers style and substance. Unfortunately, with this comes a bigger price tag. Luckily it’s only a little more expensive than the average, but the quality is good and consistent. How does it sit with you knowing that when you pay a little extra you are actually lining the pockets of Tesco, since they now have a non-controlling investment in H+H? I’m in two minds.

harris and hoole (2)

With the awareness of the emotional reaction Tesco creates it must have been a relatively tricky decision to make. But one, I expect, that most of us would have taken. Come on, your dream is realised, one of the biggest players think you are great and offer an investment. It’s what you’ve been waiting for: someone to finally recognize your genius. You could say no and keep struggling. It makes no difference to Tesco; but you could say yes, stay strong and true to yourself and get your coffee message out there.

harris and hoole

So far that’s what H + H seem to be doing. They have “13 outlets including a few outside the capital, plans to open an additional 15 in central London before the end of this year. These will be a mix of outlets co-located with Tesco and standalone shops, including a flagship store by Cannon Street station in the summer.” http://www.standard.co.uk 11 March 2013

That’s a lot! My immediate reaction is how are they going to retain their quality and quirkiness? “Nick Tolley, the chief executive of Harris + Hoole, said: “We like to think of them all as unique specimens… rather than stamping our template on every high street.” http://www.standard.co.uk 11 March 2013
It will be interesting to see how the quality I experienced in Twickenham translates around the H + H Empire, from the hut in Tesco car park, Osterley, to their flagship store in Cannon Street. And I wonder whether Tesco really do believe what they told Jill Treanor at the Guardian, “We like backing great brands, helping them to grow and to realise their potential. We’ve done it with suppliers for years. Great ideas can find it hard to get backing these days, so we’re pleased to be in a position to help entrepreneurs achieve their vision,” Clarke said.” http://www.guardian.co.uk Jan 8th.

One little fact that might irk is, “Harris + Hoole is registered in Ireland, where corporation tax stands at 12% compared the 23% it would be paying in the UK in 2013 (and the UK rate was of course higher in previous years).” http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com 24 March 2013, Shruti Tripathi. Or you may just feel that if the law states that you can do this then it’s all hunky dory. After all, would any of us pay more tax if we didn’t have to?

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