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Sustainability as a path, not a trend

Consumers are demanding more accountability from businesses in just about every sector. That is especially true in the restaurant industry, which is now facing international pressure to become more sustainable, locally sourced, low on waste, and healthy for consumers. Some large chains have struggled to adapt to new expectations, and much of that has to do with their business models; places like Starbucks and McDonald’s were not originally designed with these causes in mind. But there are up-and-coming companies that have been committed to these causes for decades, not just in response to recent trends. One such company is Joe & The Juice, an international chain that started as a coffee and juice bar in Copenhagen.

Thomas Nørøxe recently became CEO of Joe & The Juice, which now boasts 300 locations in 16 countries. According to Mr Nørøxe, the company’s goal is to “redefine the casual hangout spot by building a global lifestyle brand founded upon a truly distinctive ambience and experience, healthy and tasty made-to-order offerings, and a longstanding commitment to sustainability”. Instead of just popping in to grab a juice or a coffee, Joe & The Juice wants you to want to stick around for a while. To that end, they offer juices, coffees, teas, shakes, salads, sandwiches, snacks, and plenty of vegan options. According to their research, customers come for the Joe & The Juice experience, the ambience in each location, a lot of which has to do with happy, satisfied employees.

People First

The defining feature of this company is that 70% of their senior management started as juicers (the customer-facing baristas). When that high a percentage of decision-makers started at the bottom rungs of the ladder and climbed their way up, it makes for a senior management that is much more in tune with their employees. Because they know what the employees are facing, they prioritise employee wellbeing, which in turn improves the customer experience. These are not just lofty ideals; they have real results. “The pandemic was difficult for the entire global food and beverage sector, but I can say that we’ve come out of it stronger than we were going into it. In fact, Q3 2021 is the best sales quarter we have ever had in the company”, explained Mr Nørøxe.

To this end, the CEO has plans for further investment into their employees. He has “a goal for Joe & The Juice to help our employees to grow professionally and personally while working at Joe, and we are developing a career development programme that includes a partnership with graduate schools to complement internal development with external education”. With a stronger workforce, the CEO aims for a strong, sustained international expansion in the coming years: “One very specific goal is to double our current base of 300 global stores by 2025. I also want to continue pushing our innovation-focused initiatives – from plant-based offerings to reimagined store designs for a tech-enabled world, to market-leading food sustainability processes”. Based on their past success and present priorities, Joe’s future success looks like a sure bet.