Bridgehead coffeehouse chain sold for $9.5M

The Ottawa-based Bridgehead coffeehouse chain has been bought by Aegis Brands, the parent company of Second Cup Coffee Co.

Ottawa-based business acquired by parent company of Second Cup

A man walks past the Bridgehead at Sparks and Metcalfe streets in Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2019. The local coffee chain has announced it's been purchased by the parent company of Second Cup. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

The Ottawa-based Bridgehead coffeehouse chain has been bought by Aegis Brands, the parent company of Second Cup Coffee Co., for $9.5 million.

Bridgehead locations will continue to operate under the Bridgehead name, and its head office will remain in Ottawa, according to a joint statement released Thursday morning.

Last month, Toronto-area Second Cup Coffee Co. changed its corporate name to Aegis Brands as part of a plan to diversify beyond coffee shops.

Aegis will help Bridgehead "expand its footprint without needing to change who they are or what they do best," the statement reads.

'Appropriate time' to sell

Tracey Clark, Bridgehead's current president and CEO, told CBC in an interview the sale has been in the works for the past 18 months.

"I think it's exciting," Clark said. "They're a Canadian company with a long history, and we're a Canadian company with a long history, too."

Clark bought Bridgehead in 1999 and opened its flagship café at 362 Richmond Rd. in Westboro the following year. The chain now has 19 locations in the city, she said, and employs 325 people.

"In the very beginning, I always had a goal for Bridgehead that we would be local wherever we were, but that we wanted to be able to expand outside of Ottawa," Clark said.

"It's an appropriate time, and it's an appropriate opportunity. So we're ready."

A barista prepares a drink at the Bridgehead location on Preston Street on Dec. 5, 2019. The Ottawa coffeeshop chain announced Thursday it had been purchased by Aegis Brands, the parent company of Second Cup Coffee Co., for $9.5 million. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Brand to maintain 'autonomy'

"I guess the thing that I really like about this is I feel very reassured that we will be able to grow according to our brand values, and that we will be able to operate with autonomy and independence," Clark said.

As part of the deal, Clark will continue to lead the Bridgehead brand as the company's "chief culture officer." 

Of the $9.5-million purchase price, Aegis will pay $6 million in cash and the rest in Second Cup shares, according to the statement.

Bridgehead began in 1981, when two United Church ministers and two activists worked to bring fairly traded coffee from Nicaragua to Canada.

According to its website, Bridgehead roasts about 2,700 kilograms of fairly traded organic coffee every week, all done in-house.

With files from Denise Fung


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