Essential Brands Group’s sale means a caffeine hit with big plans for growth
On 01 July 2016, 15 years since Essential Brands Group was established, the original co-founders Mike and Gayle Koolen have hung up their barista aprons and are retiring. Now having placed over 16,000 coffee and slush systems into the marketplace via a network of direct territories and franchise operators, the group’s focus is to be the customers’ first choice in all things coffee, and then some. The headquarters on the Gold Coast houses the main coffee roasting facility, and with another in London.
While it is the end of an era with the Koolen’s moving on, it is also an exciting new beginning as the business has been acquired by their current CEO, Todd Hiscock, together with a number of executives and investors, to lead Essential Brands Group into the future as Australia’s No.1 coffee solutions business. Todd joined Essential Brands Group as CEO mid-2015 which has equipped him with an extensive knowledge of all aspects of the business and has been instrumental in driving the broader strategic goals. When Todd commenced with the business, it employed 20 staff which has increased to more than 50, and collectively the network now employs over 100 people across Australia, New Zealand and its International associates.
In addition to acquiring the Essential Brands Group, the team have also purchased the Victorian master franchise effective from 04 July 2016. Todd comments “The purchase is consistent with our strategy of growth via organic means and acquisition. We will continue to engage with key stakeholders, suppliers, our franchisees, and our expanding strong customer base. “Our priority has, and continues to be, on building customer focused solutions in the coffee and beverage market.”
With their well-known brands such as Espresso Essential, I Luv Coffee and I Luv Slush; Essential Brands Group will soon change its name to the ‘Essential Coffee Group’. “The name change makes sense given our coffee focus”, says Todd.
Having recently signed a further 2 year commitment as naming rights sponsor of the Gold Coast RLFC, I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears, Todd says “We strongly believe in supporting community sports organisations and healthy lifestyles, as well as larger national charities as part of our corporate giving program.” In line with this, Todd recently took part in the Gold Coast’s CEO Sleepout helping raise funds for the plight of the homeless.
The Executive Directors and CEO come to the Group with a vast array of commercial know-how and we take the opportunity to formally introduce them to you:
Todd Hiscock, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Director
Todd Hiscock was admitted as a Solicitor in 1994 and as a Certified Practicing Accountant a few years later. He started his professional services career in business services, taxation and then later turned to business restructuring and corporate finance with Big Four Professional Services Firms, KPMG and then Ernst & Young. He next moved to Global Fortune 500 company Telstra where he worked across many roles including Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy, Business Development, Sales, Marketing, and Product. In 2012 he took his first CEO role, running a market leading Australian PayTV company. After successfully growing and then selling that business, he commenced his role as CEO of the Gold Coast based international coffee solutions business Essential Brands Group.
Mark White: Chief Operations Officer, and Executive Director
Mark brings to Essential Brands 27 years of experience in senior executive and management roles working for small to large sized companies in Corporate Finance & Advisory services, Wholesale & Distribution, Health, Security, ICT Services, Telecommunications and Financial Services. He has worked in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, USA, Canada, Asia and the Middle East.
Mark has worked in senior management, advisory and operational roles for Telstra, Hills Limited and KPMG. He was recently the Head of Corporate Development at Hills and a member of the senior leadership team that successfully transformed Hills from an Industrial Conglomerate to an Innovation & Technology company focused on managed solutions in security and health technologies. Prior to Hills, Mark was at Telstra for 12 years where his final role was Chief Operating Officer of Telstra’s Enterprise & Government business, a $4billion plus revenue business segment within Telstra with approximately $2.5billion in annual sales.
Mark’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Finance & Accounting at the University of New England and several post graduate diplomas and executive programs with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA), the Securities Institute of Australia (now FINASIA), the Australian Graduate School of Management, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management and the Institute of Company Directors of Australia (AICD). Mark is a member of ICAA, AICD and is a fellow of FINASIA.
James Cook: Chief of Sales & Marketing, and Executive Director
After an Article Clerkship, James started his professional career in 1996 being admitted as a Solicitor to both the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia. Following employment with medium and large legal firms in Australia and New Zealand, James moved away from the law to focus on other challenges. James has qualifications in simple and complex Commonwealth procurement engaging with industry, on the purchase, acquisition and introduction into use of millions of dollars’ worth of materiel and equipment. He looks forward to applying these skills within a customer focused coffee solutions business.
Marketing has always been a focus. James completed the marketing components of the Masters of Business Administration (Executive MBA), Australian Graduate School of Management in 2003, Dale Beaumonts Business Blueprint Course 2013 – 2014 and received a Prince’s Trust / RMIT Certificate in Small Business Course Scholarship in August 2015. He is currently enrolled in the Ryan Lévesque’s ASK Method online master class. In a dynamic space James takes every opportunity to monitor on-line and social media trends to achieve sales.
James has been an executive of an outdoor sporting equipment importer and looks forward to working in the FMCG Products and coffee industry. He has launched many new brands into the Australian market, implemented strategic partnership marketing agreements, conducted social proof campaigns via magazine reviews of core products and executed the development of both wholesale and direct online sales.
James McWilliam: Chief of Finance & IT, and Executive Director
Having an entrepreneurial farming family and completed an advanced diploma in Agri Business Management from Marcus Oldham Farm Management College and managed a 10,000 acre property in Central Queensland, James’ career in Finance took him away from the land. James brings more than 20 years’ experience in financial services and business management to Essential Brands Group, holding a Commerce Degree with Accounting, Finance and Marketing majors from Bond University, and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is also currently studying for his Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) qualification.
After managing a large property development project in South East Queensland, James moved to the UK in the late 1990s to take up a senior management position with the Global Equities and Derivatives Division of UBS Warburg Dillon Reed. During this time James gained invaluable experience in staff management and all aspects of global financial markets. Following his 3 year stint in London, James returned to Sydney where he spent 10 years as a senior financial adviser with Ord Minnett whilst studying for his MBA. Whilst at Ord Minnett, James was headhunted by the Private Wealth Division of Macquarie Bank in 2009.
Having completed his MBA and spent more than a decade analysing the profitability of businesses large and small from every conceivable industry in his capacity as a stockbroker, James decided to make the move from Macquarie Bank into Mergers and Acquisitions with Lincoln Crowne in Sydney, after which James felt it was the right time to own his own business. In 2012 he purchased a national manufacturing business headquartered on the mid-north coast of NSW. This business grew significantly under management.