Q: Barista is Sri Lanka’s largest cafe chain. What is your growth strategy?

A: We have grown to become Sri Lanka’s largest and most popular cafe chain with 17 locations around the country and we’ve won LMD’s Best Customer Service Cafe award for two years running. Every month, we provide a service to over 75,000 people and sell over 50,000 cups of coffee.

Our growth strategy is focussed on the transformational agenda we set and strictly followed since 2018.

The company works on six principles: to claim the undispu­ted coffee authority title in Sri Lanka; be the best value genera­tor for coffee; engage and inspire our emplo­yees; ignite an emo­tional attachment with our customers; expand our presence; and create inno­va­tive growth platforms for our business.

Q: What elements of your brand have kept customers loyal to your organisation?

A: Best Quality Coffee and the Barista Branded Customer Service have been our winning value propositions over the years to keep customers loyal to our brand. We are very conscious about maintaining high standards in both aspects.

The finest coffee is brewed with the world-famous Lavazza coffee and we offer a branded customer service that is exclusive to Barista. This process begins even before clients enter the cafe and continues long after they have left.

We place great emphasis on key areas when adding value to the customer experience such as sourcing high-quality coffee, milk and

other ingredients, teaching our baristas to brew the finest and most perfect cup of coffee, providing excellent customer service, communicating effectively and using technology to its fullest potential, as well as learning about and meeting the needs of our customers.

Q: Tell us how your employees add value to your operations?

A: At Barista, our employees know their role in the value creation process and add value to the customer experience in all aspects of the value formula. It’s their responsibility to enrich the customers’ functional and emotional benefits, and strive to minimise the risks and effort related to their coffee experience.

Our Human Resources, Training and Development Department plays a vital role in this area. It conducts complete coffee training and service training programmes for young baristas, implements incentive plans for following service guidelines diligently and writes letters of appreciation upon receiving compliments from customers.

We are truly concerned about our employees. Barista is not a coffee company that serves people – we are a people company that serves coffee.

Q: How is your organisation navigating the prevailing economic crisis?

A: The devaluation of the rupee, import restrictions, fuel shor­t­ages, power outages, scarcity of raw materials and packaging items, and the pressure to pay wages are some of the factors that have had dramatic reper­cussions on the hospitality sector. And we are also currently dealing with a lethal combination of all these issues.

We are too small to control the economy but we can exert greater control over how we operate in it. Not by reducing or freezing our business activities but by designing a less costly and innovative operating model that can create the same value we used to offer our customers.

Barista has been very conservative in its inventory management policies and investments have been made for alternative power sources.

We are now particular about the upkeep and maintenance of our machines, especially the coffee machines since new ones are costly and hard to source.

Currently, the company is seriously looking at changing its offering and starting the process of menu reengineering to fill the gaps we may create soon, by sourcing more local and readily available raw materials.

Q: Barista launched the first coffee app in the island. Could you elaborate on this?

A: After closely monitoring our customers’ changing consumer behaviour patterns when purchasing online, we launched our mobile app in July 2020 to grow it into a channel that brings us 10 percent of our total revenue. Though it was a very ambitious plan, the team was extremely positive that we would be able achieve its objectives similar to the many other goals that we have set for ourselves.

One million worth of BARISTA app delivery was a major accomplishment for us last month. The whole Barista team put in a great deal of time and effort, conduc­ting countless studies, developing strategies, implementing CRM methods, carrying out marketing and communications plans, and so on.

Q: Could you describe any expansion plans going forward?

A: Barista is now the largest cafe chain in Sri Lanka with 17 locations. We continued to grow even through the pandemic and opened six new cafes plus four Barista Express locations during the past two and a half years.

Since we aim to be the un­disputed leader in the coffee business, we aren’t going to freeze our expansion plans because the environment is difficult. Our plans for another five outlets in strategic locations will be fulfilled this year.

We are certain that things will improve and people will keep drinking coffee, that Barista’s brand equity and relevance will increase, and the company’s growth possibilities will be greater than ever. To meet this challenge, we have put together a formidable group of people who share a single goal.

Telephone 2552180/0715 579469   |   Email dilupa@barista.lk   |   Website www.barista.lk