Bear Speciality Coffee

Bear aims to open 22 sites in the next five years

Coffee startup Bear is kicking off a £2m crowdfunding round to support national expansion of its stores.

Schoolfriends Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley founded the business in 2014 and opened the first Bear site in their hometown of Uttoxeter in 2016.

The café chain serves sustainably sourced speciality coffee, seasonal fresh food, cocktails and craft beer. Today, it operates from seven stores across four counties in the Midlands and, since 2020, runs a DTC business delivering fresh coffee, coffee pods and tea to customers across the UK.

Bear is aiming to more than quadruple its footprint nationally and plans to open 22 sites over the next five years.

The business has generated £15m in revenues so far, with 39% sales growth in the year ended 31 March 2024.

In the past 12 months, Bear’s annual revenue run rate hit £5m and its online reach jumped by 168%. Turnover has increased 56% year on year in the first quarter of 2024.

“Since opening the doors of our first store in 2016, Bear has become more than just a place to grab a coffee,” said Bunting. “It’s a community hub where like-minded individuals come together to enjoy great coffee, delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere.

“Our brand ethos is built on adventure, connection and lifestyle, creating spaces that encourage people to connect and share experiences.

“That’s why, over the past eight years, we have cultivated a fiercely loyal and engaged audience, expanded our online presence, and continuously evolved the brand to meet the needs of the communities that are local to our stores.”

Bear is aiming to raise £2m on the Crowdcube platform, with the cash to be put toward opening new stores, enhancing the product offering and further developing the brand.

Early access for investors is live ahead of the round opening on 12 June.

The round follows an investment of almost £1m in 2022 from Clark Group, which has also backed the likes of coffee brand Grind, juice business Press, supplements company Wild Nutrition and healthier snacks producer Well & Truly.