Tesco's 'independent' coffee shop Harris and Hoole closes six stores

Phillip Clarke's legacy keeps getting better and better.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 22 Jul 2015

If outgoing Tesco boss Phillip Clarke is hoping for a miraculous ‘I told you so’ moment before he leaves the firm in October, it looks like he’s in for disappointment. Harris and Hoole (it prefers to use an edgy + sign), the ‘artisanal’ coffee shop chain that’s half-owned by the supermarket giant in a ‘promise we're independent’ kind of way, has closed six of its stores in the south of England.

The chain, which was set up in 2012 by Tesco with Nick, Laura and Andrew Tolley, the Australian siblings behind super cool Taylor Street baristas, now has 41 stores, the majority of which are attached to Tesco outlets.

The supermarket’s investment of up to 49% in Harris and Hoole was part of Clarke’s strategy to rebrand Tesco as a shopping destination in the face of competition from online retailers and the discounter stores Aldi and Lidl. To judge from Tesco’s recent profit warning and its decision in July to replace Clarke with Unilever’s Dave Lewis, it’s fairly safe to say it hasn’t worked.

It may not be entirely fair, though, to tar Harris and Hoole with Tesco’s brush. Today’s closures are clearly a setback, but the firm insists most of its stores remain profitable, to the extent that it still plans to build new outlets, including another six this year.

In a very corporate-sounding statement for a laid-back, independent-coffee-shop type, boss Nick Tolley said, ‘Like any business which has grown rapidly, some locations have performed better than others, so it makes sense for us to review those locations which have done less well, or where the lease is coming to an end’.

You know, the more you think about it, the more this place does seem to have a Tesco vibe after all.

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