Lisburn coffee firm reports 60 per cent surge in online sales during pandemic

Pure Roast Coffee founder Martin Symington with Invest NI’s food and drink director, John Hood.

A LISBURN coffee company has revealed its online sales surged by 60 per cent during the pandemic as more people worked from home.

Coffee roasting, packaging and distribution specialist Pure Roast was set up in 2009 by Martin Symington. The company launched a joint venture in China three years ago, which is now up to seven stores.

Its recent success closer to home has culminated its first contract with a major retailer in Britain.

The £1 million deal will see Pure Roast supply its filter coffee, whole bean and ‘string and tag’ coffee bags to an unnamed supermarket chain.

The string and tag bags were developed following a £1m investment in 2020, backed by £209,295 from Invest NI. The investment also created ten jobs.

Mr Symington said the bags were developed after the company spotted a gap in the market.

Commenting on Pure Roast’s joint venture with state-owned conglomerate China Resources, launched in 2018, Mr Symington said: “Coffee consumption in China is growing and we’ve been working closely with Invest NI’s in-market China team to grow in this market.

“The team has provided us with expert trade advice and connected us with key contacts and we have now opened our seventh café in Shanghai.

“Our ambitions are to grow this further, to over 60 stores across China in the next few years.”

The funding from Invest NI was part financed by the 2014-2020 tranche of the European Regional Development Fund. It’s thought to be among the final Invest NI projects backed by EU funding.

The loss of the ERDF has been highlighted as a key factor in the funding crisis facing Invest NI that has prompted the economic support agency to halt new offers of financial support.

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