Rapid growth signals healthy future for Sunshine Coast success story

Things grow well on the Sunshine Coast and one of the fastest growing of them all is local success-story Raw Energy Cafe.

Despite overwhelming competition from the big American chains, Mooloolaba-based fresh food franchise Raw Energy, is enjoying rapid growth with four new stores opening in as many months.

Matthew HopeManaging Director of Raw Energy Mr Matthew Hope, said the company now boasted 12 Raw Energy franchises, with six of them on home turf.

“We’ve just opened up two outlets at University of Sunshine Coast and another at Kawana Hospital,” Mr Hope said. “They join our other local outlets at Coolum, Cotton Tree, Noosa, and Peregian Beach. “It’s heartening to see the business doing so well back where it all started.”

Mr Hope confirmed he now owned 100 percent of the brand after he purchased the remaining 20 percent of the business from founder Geoff Campbell.

“Geoff started a great concept in healthy fast food and it was, in some ways, ahead of its time but Australians' fast-food choices have been getting healthier, smaller and more diverse over the past five years and the market is now ripe for the Raw Energy Café concept as witnessed by our recent growth. We are passionately focused on growing the brand to make it a national entity.

“We’ve got some pretty significant business goals but we’re confident we have the right strategy to achieve them.”

With turnover approaching $7 million annually, Mr Hope said he expected to push sales by at least 30 percent in the next year.

“With four new stores since January we are on track to reach our growth expectation, and plans are in place to open another six stores by the end of the year.”

Raw is currently in advanced discussions for sites in Brisbane, Burleigh, Townsville, Newcastle and two suburbs of Perth.

“In the past I put our success down to fitting a coastal way of life, but since opening in new markets we’ve proven our growing popularity is actually in line with a greater market shift towards healthier eating and living. This is also evident by the amount of enquiry we are receiving for new franchise opportunities in virgin territories like Western Australia.”

Mr Hope said recent strategic partnerships with hospitals and university were testament to this permanent change in consumer behaviour.

“Healthy eating has driven change in the fast food sector with a focus on menu items with lower sugar, salt and fat levels than traditional fast food choices. Universities and hospitals, in particular, are home to time-poor but also health-conscious consumers but up until now there has not been a focus on meeting their needs.

“Both the university and hospital initially approached us about opening within their premise in order to fulfil this need for patrons. A fast, fresh and healthy option like Raw Energy is immediately going to draw crowds. Based on the success of this strategy so far it’s a market niche we hope to expand on.”

Along with the three new local stores, the company’s New South Wales Master Franchisee also recently opened an outlet at Wollongong Private Hospital.

“Our two Wollongong stores are our first venture interstate,” Mr Hope said. “Their success has emboldened us to expand further into NSW and also into other parts of the country and we have a Master Franchisee based there to ensure we maintain momentum.

“Four new stores in four months is not a bad batting average and if we can keep up that sort of pace who knows how far reaching Raw Energy will be in 12 months’ time?”

To support the company’s growth Mr Hope has bolstered the support team for the business recently hiring new Operations Manager Jay Giles and Business Development Manager Phill Tucker.

“Jay and Phill both have immense experience in the retail and hospitality industries and have been instrumental in managing the rollout of the new stores and working to get things off the ground and operational in such short time frames,” Mr Hope said. “They are focused on assisting the brand to reach its true potential, including supporting our franchisees, the lifeblood of our brand, to be profitable. They are very welcome additions to the team here on the coast.”

Apart from the six Sunshine Coast locations, Raw Energy also has stores in Brisbane’s CBD, Coolangatta, Toowoomba and Wollongong.