Irishman Aiden Keegan named CEO of New Zealand listed coffee company

Cooks Coffee Company known as ‘the biggest coffee company you’ve never heard of’

Irish coffee business veteran Aiden Keegan has been named chief executive of New Zealand-listed Cooks Coffee Company, described as “the biggest coffee company you’ve never heard of”.

It is listed on the New Zealand stock exchange and the Aquis Exchange in London, a growth market for small companies.

It grants franchises to operate coffee shops under its Esquires Coffee brand and has operations in Ireland, the UK, Pakistan and the Middle East, according to its website. It has 55 outlets in the UK, along with 15 in Ireland and 96 worldwide.

Mr Keegan started his career working with Harry O’Kelly at the Insomnia chain in the early 2000s before moving to work with Tony McVerry who had the master franchise for the Esquires chain of coffee shops in Ireland. Esquires is owned by the Cooks Coffee Company and Mr Keegan and Mr McVerry built the chain up to 15 stores in Ireland by the time of the financial crash in 2008.


From there he spent a number of years working as operations manager for Cooks Coffee Company on its business in the gulf region until 2018, when he was asked to take on the position of managing director of its UK division.

“In my time in the UK we worked on reducing the cost of goods for franchisees by 10 per cent, which had no benefit to us but put 3-3.5 per cent of store turnover back into the franchisees’ pockets,” he told The Irish Times.

He also managed the company’s transition through Covid-19 and said that in the early stages of the pandemic Esquires’ growth matched that of Greggs, the bakery chain that for a time had the strongest growth of any food and beverage business in the UK.

According to Mr Keegan, there is significant capacity for growth in the UK, and the company also intends to expand internationally. Cooks Coffee Company is currently in the midst of raising 1.7 million New Zealand dollars (€942,000) from existing shareholders in order to invest in technology and expand the Esquires chain, with a particular focus on the Middle East and Europe.

Earlier this year the company announced that total volume of sales in its franchised stores worldwide were up 15.8 per cent to $53.8 million New Zealand dollars. Total sales in its UK stores amounted to 35 million New Zealand dollars and in Ireland that figure was 18.8 million New Zealand dollars, a rise of 11 per cent.

It has 71 sites in the UK and Ireland, it reported. Its operations here include a shop in the Tallaght shopping centre, which opened in February, 2023, on Mary Street in Dublin city centre and an outlet in the Savoy cinema complex on O’Connell Street.

The company was hit by a fire in its Longford store in September, 2022 but that shop has since reopened.

In the last full year of trading to the end of March 2023, Cooks Coffee Company had total revenues from franchise operations of $6.6 million New Zealand dollars, down from 7.7 million New Zealand dollars the year before, and a total loss for the year of 3.3 million New Zealand dollars, mostly due to a write-down of the value of some of its assets.