Rombouts, one of the most famous high-street coffee brands before the espresso boom, will be re-launched to the catering trade at this month's Caffe Culture show.
The out-of-home and foodservice business is back under the ownership of the founding family, although Premier Foods still deal with retail sales. The re-establishment of the brand in catering will be handled by Rob Briggs, Teresa Pullen, and Jonathan Wadham, who between them have 30 years Rombouts experience.
Public perception of the brand had dropped in recent years, the new team acknowledges.
"In recent years, Rombouts was subject to large corporate pressures, which led to customer neglect, and little investment in sales and marketing has diminished our brand presence. The obvious signs of support, the swing signs and window stickers, dwindled to nothing. This was the main rationale behind the family buying back the out-of-home side. We believe that the quality and reputation of our coffees, along with a lot of hard work, will help us regain the position we once held in the UK."
The brand proposition has altered in recognition of the changes in the café sector since Rombouts was last a giant name.
"We have been known as the "one cup filter coffee company" for over four decades. We are now applying our knowledge of portion-controlled products to the espresso market with our range of whole roasted beans and the the launch of our 1-2-3 Spresso systems. This is a revolutionary system."
One of the biggest issues with espresso and espresso-based drinks is the great variability in quality. One way around this is the use of the "pod", a portion of compressed coffee similar in size to a tea-bag, but more tightly packed, which can be used in an espresso machine. Apart from the benefits of portion control, a pod allows for a swift change between coffees - some cafes use pods to allow them to serve the occasional decaf without changing all the beans in their grinder.
The new Rombouts system is possibly unique in that the pods are delivered vertically into the machine, and are ejected after use.
The Caffè Culture Show runs on 21-22 May at London's Olympia. For more information go here >>
By Ian Boughton