Turning hotel lobbies into cool bakeries
At Kartesia we try to be more than a typical lender by reviewing new business opportunities with our clients. As a credit platform operating in France, the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria, we enjoy a deep network of top managers and experts and we ensure our clients make the most of it.
A couple of months ago, two companies from our portfolio in Spain, Compañía del Trópico and High Tech Hoteles, began working together on a new concept in the food and hotels industry. CEO of High Tech Hoteles Alfonso Castellano and CEO of Compañía del Trópico Antonio Pérez tell us how the new offer will support their growth.
Kartesia’s involvement in both companies
In Summer 2014, Kartesia arranged and financed the acquisition by H.I.G. of Café y Té, a leading Spanish coffee shop chain, and Panaria, a premium bakery and coffee shop concept created by Antonio Pérez, who currently oversees the global development of both entities under the Compañía del Trópico banner.
Meanwhile, in early July 2014, Kartesia’s investment team acquired secondary LBO debt from High Tech Hoteles, a chain of 33 boutique hotels boasting central locations in the main Spanish cities.
Jaime Prieto, Managing Partner at Kartesia, explains Kartesia’s proactive approach: “We explore undervalued and potentially tainted companies. We act as a sponsor in the sense that we are committed to our clients’ success, supporting their development”. He continues: “We are convinced that the best way to reduce our risk is to help companies grow”.
How it started: outsourcing hotel catering
“The management team wanted to expand Café y Té and Panaria’s network by setting up franchises and opening new stores”, says Jaime. Café y Té and Panaria were looking for business opportunities to reach new clients at different times, from early breakfast to late drinks.
High Tech Hoteles, meanwhile, was striving to lighten its cost structure while improving the standing of its 4-star hotels in the wake of the crisis, which negatively impacted Spain’s hotel industry. Relying on Café y Té catering professionals to take care of client breakfasts was a first step. In early October, Jaime introduced Antonio Pérez to Alfonso Castellano. “I realised that Café y Té was already managing the coffee shop portion of another small hotel chain and believed a partnership would benefit both of them, given the fit between the concepts and the entrepreneurial personalities of Antonio and Alfonso”, he explains. And so it did: Café y Té now manages the breakfast menu of High Tech Hoteles and invests in training catering employees to ensure quality of service.
From one step to another: building new coffee shop concepts in hotels
Antonio and Alfonso decided to take their collaboration one step further. They created a new bakery and coffee shop concept specifically for High Tech Hoteles lobbies.
“We used to rent the commercial spaces of our hotels to third parties. Now we are trying to reverse that trend, taking back the commercial space to bring in our new business partners, Café y Té and Panaria, and enhance our guests’ experience. Our goal is to integrate their catering offer in all our hotels”, Alfonso explains. He describes the partnership as a “great commercial opportunity” on two levels: first by allowing him to provide his clients with a larger range of services; and second, by attracting new customers, who stop by to enjoy a coffee, drink or croissant. The first pilots were launched in February in Madrid.
Alfonso is confident that his clients, “international millennial profiles who want to be integrated in the local culture”, will value a food offer that ranges from breakfast to mid-morning snacks, coffee and cakes to tapas and mojitos. “We are currently looking at 11 expansion projects in Spanish cities, seven of which have already incorporated Café y Té and Panaria”, High Tech Hoteles’ CEO reveals.
Antonio Pérez agrees that both sets of client bases will benefit from the new concept. Just back from a trip to London to check out the latest retail trends, he shares his impressions: “We need to give more visibility to the coffee machines and baristas”. With this new partnership, Compañía del Trópico is working with an increasing number of hotels. “Hotels could soon be a new division of the company”, Antonio smiles. “Coffee stores and buffets drive more traffic to hotels. High Tech Hoteles are ideally located in places where lots of people go out at night and on weekends”, he adds.
On Jaime Prieto, Managing Partner at Kartesia, who introduced the two CEOs
“Jaime saw the potential value of a collaboration with Café y Té and Panaria and introduced me to Antonio, saying this was a line we could explore together”, recalls Alfonso, adding: “Jaime has great financial vision, great ambition and a special kind of business sensitivity. Although we are under pressure, I never feel threatened”.