When Gerry Ford founded Caffè Nero in 1997, his aim was to bring a premium, continental-style cafè to Great Britain. He wanted it to be authentically Italian, serving premium espresso-based coffee, fresh high quality food, and a neighbourhood gathering spot.
In 1997, Gerry bought five retail sites in London and began to create his vision. It took nearly one year to perfect the brand and build a strong team of equally passionate people. During these early years, Caffè Nero received the honour of "Best Espresso This Side of Milan". In 1999 we opened stores outside of London for the first time, and by the end of 2000, the Nero team had built 31 cafes and established the company as a national brand. We also won a British Design Council award for best company identity.
In March 2001, Caffè Nero joined the London Stock Exchange and by the end of the year, we had 80 coffee houses in 24 cities and towns.
In 2002, 29 Aroma coffee houses were acquired, which established us as the largest independent coffee house in the UK with 106 stores, and in 2004 another 12 sites were acquired from Coffee Republic and integrated into the family.
In October 2005, Caffè Nero was named the 20th fastest growing company in Europe by Business Week magazine. That same year, Caffè Nero retained the number one position in Allegra’s UK coffee rankings marking its fifth consecutive win (8 total), and Gerry Ford was named "UK Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Financial Times and London Stock Exchange.
In early 2007, we took Caffè Nero private again, purchasing a majority equity position and removing Caffè Nero from the LSE. Forever driving forwards, and still in 2007 we completed our first country expansion into Turkey and at the same time launched a new Nero Express concept within train stations in the UK.
In 2009 we opened our first stores in The United Arab Emirates, and in 2012, we started an exciting partnership in Poland to create Green Caffè Nero with the first store opening in the Lublin Union Square, Warsaw.
In 2013 we opened our first beach cafe in Larnaca, Cyprus. Also in 2013, Caffè Nero's coffee was rated best tasting among five major UK brands by experts at the independent consumer magazine Which? in its first ever taste test.
Caffè Nero opens one new store a week and now has over 600 stores globally with more than 4,000 skilled baristas and support team. Caffè Nero has been part of the coffee culture revolution and has helped raise the bar on the coffee quality available to consumers through the introduction of hand-crafted artisan coffee in hundreds of towns and cities in Europe and Middle East. Through this, Caffè Nero has become one of the best recognised and most admired coffee house brands in the world.
Caffè Nero is a success because of the team of passionate people who know the brand inside out, and Gerry Ford and key colleagues are as much a part of the company today as they were in the early days.