Economy

Boost Juice parent company snaps up Cibo Espresso, on the hunt for businesses with “X factor”

Cara Waters /

Retail Zoo, the parent company of Boost Juice and Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, has acquired Cibo Espresso.

Cibo was launched in Adelaide in 2000 and is modelled on an Italian coffee bar and offers artisan made Italian products in a modern environment.

It has 20 stores in Adelaide and two in Brisbane but Retail Zoo plans to extend the brand across Australia, starting in the Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane markets.

Jeff Allis, chief executive of Retail Zoo, would not tell SmartCompany the percentage of Cibo Espresso acquired but says it is a “good majority share” with the owners of Cibo retaining a “high individual percentage” as well.

He says Retail Zoo paid “under $15 million” to buy Cibo.

“I’ve known Cibo for a long time and I’m an Adelaide boy originally. As far as Retail Zoo goes, what we aim to do is find young Australian companies with a bit of an X factor and we help them grow as big as we can,” he says.

Allis says Retail Zoo can help Cibo achieve its complete vision.

“They’ve got the front end right and we’ve got the back end right and plug them together and they should be great,” he says.

“Cibo is at 20 plus stores now and we can grow them substantially in a short period of time. We would be hoping to double in size within 18 months, but if anything slows us down it will be being a bit picky about the sites.”

Allis says Retail Zoo is continuing to hunt for businesses to buy with the elusive X factor.

“We have looked at about 50 businesses in the last three years. It’s difficult to find the right brand that we love that are prepared to sell and come in and be part of the vision, there are five possibilities on the radar but until a deal is done it is very difficult,” he says.

“Good businesses are generally not for sale for a reason. Cibo was an exception as the guys have their food back end and we will help them grow the front of the retail brand.”

Allis says Retail Zoo will look to expand Cibo internationally.

“With 15 countries worldwide in our master franchise there is every strong likelihood we can take Cibo international. I think with their Italian authenticity they are different enough to stand out from the pack,” he says.

Roberto Cardone, co-founder of Cibo Espresso, said Retail Zoo knows how to grow a business quickly without compromising on quality.

“The partnership with Retail Zoo enables us to utilise their sophisticated management and franchise systems to facilitate Cibo Espresso’s rapid expansion,” he said.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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