Lyon’s Instant Coffee is ‘the new kid on the block’. It has credibility in abundance and if there’s one word that sums up what vending operators look for when they’re considering taking on a new brand, it’s ‘credibility’.

The team behind the brand, Jim Cain, Andy Grelak and Geoff Wakelin, can call upon 100 years of coffee experience between them.

‘Jim and I used to work for Lyons Tetley in the old days’, Geoff Wakelin said. ‘I actually launched Lyons Instant, much to the chagrin of others in the company that only believed in roast and ground. So we knew the values associated with the brand inside out.’

Lyons is one of Britain’s best-known brand names, but because of the vagaries of business, the products that bear the name are owned by a plethora of companies. Lyons tea; Lyons roast and ground coffee; Lyon’s ice cream; Lyons biscuits, Lyons cakes; Lyons seafood… The list goes on and on.

‘There is a proliferation of Lyons brand owners’, Jim said, ‘and that can be a complication when you try to explain that you only own the instant coffee. It’s not long since I received a letter from a gentleman who wanted to comment about a new product and he signed off with the line, ‘I love your jam tea cakes!’

It’s this consumers’ familiarity with the brand and their loyalty to it, which has played a part in the rapid growth in sales of Lyons Instant Coffee. From a standing start in ’13, sales now top £3m per annum. The bulk of those sales comes from the retail sector, but we have identified two other sectors which we believe are prime prospects for expansion: exports and vending. The man tasked with building a business for the brand in vending is Andy Grelak.

Andy Grelak

‘None of us has had any direct experience of operating a vending business,’ Andy said, ‘but we ran a coffee consultancy for almost 25 years and our biggest client during that time was Selecta. We handled all their coffee purchases so we understand vending from the purchasing point of view. Having said that, with our coffee experience and our retail experience we thought, ‘if people see a vending machine and it’s got a Lyons decal on it, then why wouldn’t it work?’’

‘If operators sell our coffee in their vending machines, they’ll make more money.’

‘Our strategy is simple’ Andy said. ‘We want to offer a great coffee brand at a reasonable price. We believe we have a great product, made from top quality coffees including Colombian arabica. If operators sell our coffee in their vending machines, they’ll make more money at the same time as providing their customers with what they will perceive as a better product. We all have complete faith in our coffee, that’s why we’re working tirelessly to persuade vending operators to give it a go. After they do, we’re confident that they’ll conclude that there’s no going back.’