Canadian coffee chain The Second Cup Ltd. is radically revamping its board of directors, adding a sense of urgency to its multi-year turnaround plan.
The chain appointed Michael Bregman as its new chairman, giving Second Cup's one-time boy wonder another shot as head of the board of directors. Mr. Bregman's board shuffle includes bringing on Alton McEwen, who previously served as the company's chief executive officer from 2000 to 2004.
Second Cup has long fought with established Canadian rivals such as Tim Hortons, but recent strength from Starbucks Canada and big gains from McDonalds' McCafes, are adding a new dimension to the Canadian coffee war and Second Cup isn't faring well.
To fight back, the chain announced a transformation plan in 2012 that involved re-establishing its stores as chic and cool, adding things like leather arm chairs and double-sided fireplaces.
But the results have been slow to come by, and now the familiar faces are being brought back into the fold to add some heft. Michael Bregman is also buying a 5 per cent stake in the company.
The new board of directors is now comprised of Mr. Bregman and Mr. McEwen, as well as Stephen Kelley, a former financial analyst, Rael Merson, the former president of Rogers Broadcasting, and Alan Simpson, the former CEO of Town Shoes and The Shoe Company. No changes were announced regarding Second Cup's current CEO, Stacey Mowbray, who ushered in the transformation plan.
2013 was a tough year for the coffee chain. Same store sales continue to fall, and the company's net loss over the first three quarters amounted to $8.5-million – however, that included a one-time $13-million impairment charge on its trademarks. There has also been some management turnover, with the chief financial officer leaving in June.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. When the company announced its transformation plan in 2010, management expected the company to open 140 cafes, bringing the total number of stores close to 500. Today there's barely been any progress, with just 350 cafes across the country.
Before coming back to chair the company, Mr. Bregman was critical of Second Cup telling The Globe and Mail in 2010 that there was a "time warp" at the company. "They just fell asleep ... They're waking up now."