World of Mocha? Second Cup leases prominent West Wellington retail space

Second Cup will construct one of its new café concept stores in the former World of Maps storefront on Wellington Street West as the Canadian coffee chain attempts to regain market share lost in recent years to its expanding competitors.

The new store, located at the corner of Holland Avenue, will open in early 2017, company officials say.

The space has sat empty for more than a year since popular niche retailer World of Maps moved several blocks east. Store owner Petra Thoms said earlier this year that the rent, which was some $10,000 a month plus utilities, was a factor in her decision to move.

Ms. Thoms said Starbucks was initially interested in filling the storefront, but eventually took a pass. The Seattle-based chain has a location several blocks north in Holland Cross, across from Tunney’s Pasture.

The new Second Cup will also be competing against Ottawa-based Bridgehead, which has nearby locations to the east and west, as well as other speciality food and beverage shops along the popular retail strip.

John Kazmierowski, Second Cup’s vice-president of development and construction, said in an e-mailed statement that the company is betting on its new café concept – which includes locally baked goods and custom artwork – to distinguish itself from the competition.

“This location will reflect our new brand image,” he said. “The café is bright, warm and welcoming. It’s the sort of spot that customers want to spend time in and truly complements the culture of the neighbourhood.”

The company declined to discuss rental rates and fit-up costs or say whether the store would be corporately owned or owned by a franchise operator, saying the latter information was confidential.

However, a full-page ad in this week’s Kitchissippi Times newspaper (digital edition here) says Second Cup is looking for individuals to own a franchise in West Wellington.

The company’s relationship with its franchise owners has been a sore spot for the Second Cup in recent years, with several launching lawsuits and others complaining of high renovation costs and rents, according to an August Globe and Mail feature.

The story noted that Second Cup was attempting to address the concerns of its franchise owners by reducing royalty and marketing fees, among other measures.

There are currently 298 Second Cup stores across Canada, reportedly down from nearly 400 at the company’s peak.

Analysts have said the company is struggling to compete against market leaders such as Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

Earlier this week, Second Cup said it had secured an $8-million loan that will be used to pay off an existing credit facility and for general corporate purposes.