Mars orbits away from coffee

The Lavazza Group has announced an agreement to acquire Mars Drinks, including the Flavia and Klix systems, from Mars Inc. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2018 and is reportedly worth around $650 million.



Under the terms of the agreement, the Lavazza Group will acquire Mars’ coffee businesses in North America, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Japan, including its related systems and its production facilities in the UK and the States.

“This acquisition fits perfectly within our international expansion strategy, the objective of strengthening key markets, as well as the pursuit of having an even closer relationship with end consumers,” according to Lavazza Group chief executive officer Antonio Baravalle. “Indeed, this acquisition strengthens the Lavazza Group’s position in the office coffee services (OCS) and vending segments, which offer considerable opportunities for growth and development.”

CEO of Mars, Grant Reid said: “Mars Drinks has been an important part of our business for many years, and while it’s always hard to say goodbye to great brands, valued associates and friends, we believe now is the right time for a change. We are confident this decision will better enable long-term success for the drinks business with Lavazza – a company that shares our values and has a dedicated focus on beverages – and will allow the business and its associates to continue to thrive.”

easyJet flies into the vending market

It has been interesting to read about the new kid on the block, easyCoffee – part of the easy group of brands, including easyJet. The coffee chain was launched back in 2016 and has had rapid growth since.

easyCoffee has recently received a £10m boost from an investment company which will allow the business to move forward with its ambitious growth plan to roll out 800 vending machines nationally in the next year.

CEO, Nathan Lowry, commented that: ”Vending is a highly profitable business driven by brand recognition. This investment is an endorsement that the easyCoffee brand stands for a quality product and service at a value price”.

We are used to seeing Costa and Lavazza vending machines at our garage forecourts, shopping malls and leisure centres, but I am sure it won’t be long before we see the distinctive orange and white coloured machines at these venues.

easyCoffee has pitched itself in the market “below Costa and Neros, but above Greggs”, using quality Fair Trade products, but with drink prices being in the region of 20-25% cheaper.

To date, we haven’t personally tasted the coffee so can’t comment on its quality, but there is no reason to doubt the company’s claim that they are selling “great coffee for less”.

Still true to this day….

The Thirst Link strap line, “A First for objective vending advice… A Thirst for quality solutions” created by our founding directors Roy Girt and David Bate back in 2005, is still true to this day. We think it sums up rather well what we do.


We are a “one stop shop” for Vending, Water & Catering advice and, because we have no ties to any supplier, vending operator, contract caterer or equipment manufacturer, we are ideally placed to provide truly objective advice to our clients.

The Partners’ expert knowledge extends to all Vending, Catering and related services, including all types of vending equipment, POU water units and cashless systems etc. even down to ensuring that the best tasting teas, coffees and other products are dispensed, to suit a client’s requirement and budget.

Most senior managers of successful companies prefer to focus on their key business tasks and non-core services tend to be pushed to one side. And that’s where we come in. Armed with the most up to date industry knowledge, we then assist our clients through what can be a challenging process, to select the most appropriate machines and service provider. But don’t take our word for it – we are proud to share case studies and testimonials on our website where we have done “a good job”!

Coca-Cola makes a move on coffee

The Coca-Cola Company has bought British coffee chain Costa from Whitbread in a deal worth £3.9 billion.

By purchasing the UK’s largest coffee chain, Coke is looking to expand beyond fizzy drinks and wants to gain access to Costa’s coffee “platform” across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.


Costa currently operates just over 4,000 retail outlets, its Costa Express vending operation, for-home coffee formats and a roastery.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said: “Costa gives Coca-Cola new capabilities and expertise in coffee, and our system can create opportunities to grow the Costa brand worldwide.  Hot beverages is one of the few segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand. Costa gives us access to this market with a strong coffee platform.”

He went on to explain why Coke had chosen Costa: “Because Costa is a good fit – and the best way – for Coca-Cola to add a global coffee “platform” that will complement our existing system. Let me be very clear about why I use the word ‘platform’ and not ‘brand’. A platform means Costa isn’t just one thing. Not just a brand. Not just a retail operation. Not just vending. Not just a coffee roaster.

“A platform is all of those things and more. Costa is a platform with a great supply chain in coffee, a world-class roastery, a strong retail presence and a vending system. Costa has strengths in many countries and in many key distribution channels of the coffee business.”

Costa’s Managing Director Dominic Paul said: “Costa is a fantastic business with committed and passionate associates, a great track record and enormous global potential. Being part of the Coca-Cola system will enable us to grow the business farther and faster.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to our customers and to everyone in the Costa team who have helped us build the business to this position, and I look forward to the next exciting chapter in Costa’s vision of Inspiring the World to Love Great Coffee.”

Selecta acquires Express Vending





European vending giant Selecta Group has acquired UK-based vending operator Express Vending Limited for an undisclosed sum.

David Flochel, CEO of Selecta said: “This transaction is consistent with Selecta’s strategy of supplementing organic growth with carefully-chosen acquisitions and we are very happy to welcome Express Vending and its employees to the Selecta family.

“Our intention for Express Vending is to let it operate as a stand-alone organisation focusing on London and to allow the team to continue on its well-proven growth trajectory.”

Brian Donne, founder of Express Vending added: “This transaction is an exciting next step for Express Vending.  Selecta is well-placed to comprehensively support the continued rapid growth for the business under the leadership of Paul Hearne, executive director of Express Vending, and his management team. Our customers will benefit from the increased offering that Selecta brings and our employees can be part of an international, successful company with career opportunities.”

Heard of CQUIN? And it has nothing to do with Strictly!

What is CQUIN?  It stands for Commissioning for Quality & Innovation and Thirst Link is currently helping a growing number of NHS hospitals to meet the challenge of satisfying the mandatory CQUIN for staff health and wellbeing, and so enable them to access their share of the CQUIN incentive fund.


The staff health and wellbeing CQUIN requires the provision of a healthy hot food service for doctors and nurses outside of conventional catering hours, particularly night shifts and weekends. Thirst Link worked alongside Bon Appetit, an expert provider for automated hot food catering, to provide 24/7 hot food vending, with over 50% of their selections being “healthier choices”.

Bon Appetit now serve over 50 hospitals, including the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset – a typical hospital site, spread out over a wide area – which now has a staff catering solution that fits the bill.

What is the “soft drinks tax”?

From April 2018, a “soft drinks tax” comes into force in the UK.

Soft drinks manufacturers and importers will be required to pay a tax based on the added sugar content of the beverage:

0-5g per 100ml (0p per litre)

5-8g per 100ml (18p per litre)

8g+ per 100m (24p per litre)

Those items included are soft drinks with added sugar and alcoholic drinks with an alcohol volume of up to 1.2%. Items not included are soft drinks with no added sugar, pure fruit juice and soft drinks with 75% milk content.

The introduction of this tax is aimed at reducing the rate of obesity in the UK which is showing a worrying upward trend. The percentage of obese adults in 1993 was 14.9% (1 in 6) and rose to 26.9% in 2014, (1 in 4).

However, The McKinsey Global Institute listed “portion control” and “reformulation” as the two interventions which could have the greatest impact on obesity, in comparison with the soft drinks tax which was listed in the bottom four interventions.

One of the biggest players, Coca-Cola, has stated that they are reformulating (reducing the sugar) in most of their  brands to ensure exemption from the soft drinks tax by April 2018, but they will not be reformulating their Coca-Cola Classic, which they say “represents 125 years of history”.

Caterers needed

We’ve heard of an excellent opportunity for caterers –

LiveWire (Warrington) CIC are currently looking for one or more experienced caterers to run its Catering locations. These services are located at Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub and as part of the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub development – each is based around a catering kitchen and involves running a café, providing hot and cold food and drink options for service users and also providing buffets for conferences and events within each site. In addition Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub will have a luxury spa which will also need catering for.

 The opportunity is being adveristed on LiveWire’s website

 Deadline for submissions is Thursday 9th November, 10.00am.


Another big step for European vending giant

N&W Global Vending said it has acquired Italy’s Ducale Macchine da Caffé di Sandei Ugo & C.s.n.c., “to strengthen its competitive position in the coffee vending machine category”.

Ducale has been manufacturing equipment for the hospitality industry since the mid-1950s as a manufacturer of coffee machines for bars and restaurants, Its move into vending began in the 1960s with coffee machines and progressed into other full-line categories. N&W Global Vending is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of full-line vending machines.

The European vending giant has been owned by Dallas-based Lone Star Funds since April 2016. Subsequently, N&W has been rolling up coffee vending machine manufacturers, beginning last year with Italy’s Saeco Vending and most recently, they acquired a controlling stake in Canada’s Cafection Enterprises, signaling an aggressive move into the North American vending and OCS markets.


New coffee chain coming to Britain

Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee chain, has announced its arrival in the UK when it opens its restaurant on Argyle Street in central Glasgow, on 2nd June – we are the first European country to open its doors to the brand.

Although Tim Hortons is virtually part of the fabric of Canada’s culture and found almost everywhere throughout the country, the Glasgow location will be the first to open in Britain, before the company hope to take the brand nationwide over the next 12 months.

Tim Hortons was founded by its namesake, a famous professional ice hockey player.

The restaurants will offer an extensive menu of drinks including its signature brewed coffee and the brand’s classic frozen Iced Capp, freshly prepared baked goods, and breakfast and lunch items.