Case Study: Bruce & Luke's Coffee Empire

Bruce Brown and Luke Jackson are an entrepreneurial duo from Carlisle whose self-named brand ‘Bruce and Luke’s’ includes Foxes Café, Bruce and Luke’s Coffee Supply and Maintenance, Bruce and Luke’s Donuts and the recently  acquired coffee house Coffee Genius.

The pair’s journey into business ownership began in 2011 when, keen to be their ‘own bosses’, they seized the opportunity to take over a popular local café, Foxes, when the lease became available.

Bruce admits that when they began running the business he “didn’t have a clue” and business partner Luke was initially in charge of the books. Whilst the freedom of running their own hospitality business was an exciting challenge, the prospect of manual bookkeeping was less attractive and both felt frustrated by the process.

“It just didn’t make sense to us. You do a whole year of business and then a month after the end of the fiscal year, you find out how well or how badly you’ve done. Me and Luke thought that was bonkers. We wanted to know when and where we’ve done well or badly at the time.”

By 2015 the pair had embarked upon their second business venture with the launch of ‘Bruce and Luke’s’, roasting and supplying coffee, but also staff training and maintenance of machines. With a fast growing business, both recognised the need for an accounting solution that would provide them with the vital info they would need instantly and accurately. It was at this point they enlisted the guidance of Grant Smith, Accounting Partner.

As the UK’s largest partner of leading accountancy software provider Xero, Armstrong Watson, and specifically leading advocate Grant, were well placed to provide the support and advice needed to Bruce and Luke and suggested they should try out the online accounting and payroll system Xero.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with Grant. He was a customer at Foxes and he recommended Xero. It was quite cutting edge, which appealed to us as we both like to be early adopters.”

“We started using Xero to make much more informed decisions - it’s much more user –friendly than what we were using before, much easier to visualise. You can see your successes and failure in real time.”

The business became a client of Armstrong Watson in 2017 and since then Grant has become part of a trusted team, says Bruce.

“If Bruce and I come up with an idea, Armstrong Watson is like a sounding board. Grant will sit down and he’ll say ‘what about this?’ I used to see accountants as a bit up-tight, a bit beige – they’re not like that.  A lot of accountants you’re just a number, but Armstrong Watson understand the people behind those figures and the passion they have for what they’re doing.”

Grant Smith adds,

“As a coffee lover Bruce and Luke came to my attention when they launched their coffee brand back in 2015. Having met them at various events it was clear they were very ambitious and were quickly making inroads into a difficult market.  I was delighted to sign them up as a client and I look forward to working with them to achieve their goal of operating 100 coffee shops within the UK in the next 10 years.”