Joe & The Juice Enters Middle East Market Ahead of IPO, CEO Says

(Bloomberg) — Joe & The Juice A/S, the juice bar chain whose owners include Egypt’s richest man and the H&M billionaire family, will expand in the Middle East as part of growth plans to prepare for a possible stock-exchange listing.

It wants to popularize juice globally the way Starbucks Corp. spread the takeaway coffee culture around the world and reckon going public could help achieve that goal, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Noroxe, a former investment banker at UBS Group AG, said in an interview. An IPO will be possible in three to five years, if cash flow turns positive, he said.

“We’re a category killer,” the 47-year-old, who became CEO in June, said by phone. “We believe we have a justification to be on the stock exchange. We’re a consumer brand and listing would make us more visible.”

The Copenhagen-based chain will open its first stores in Qatar and Dubai next quarter before setting up shop in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman by the end of the year. In total it will add 200 to 300 juice bars in the region over 10 years, with the help of a franchise model to accelerate expansion and help reach a goal to grow 20% annually, the CEO said.

The company has about 300 of its own stores, opened over the past two decades, but may well use franchises to enter other new countries, such as China and Mexico.

“It means we can focus on our core markets in the US and Europe and not be alone in new markets, using the advantage of local partners to avoid mistakes,” Noroxe said.

Sales Recover

The company’s revenue plunged almost 30% in 2020 as lockdowns forced customers to stay at home. Sales recovered last year, also helped by digital orders and deliveries, which haven’t declined after lockdowns ended. The 2021 earnings report hasn’t yet been published, but the CEO said revenue rose to about $170 million, similar to what it was in 2019, and the company was profitable on an Ebitda level.

Joe & The Juice would probably favor a listing in its homeland of Denmark, but may consider the US where peers like Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Shake Shack Inc. are traded. A listing is ultimately decided by the owners, Noroxe said.

These include private equity firms Valedo Partners and General Atlantic. DIG Investment, owned by family members of H&M AB billionaire Stefan Persson, and NNS Holding, the investment vehicle of Egypt’s Nassef Sawiris, joined last year in connection with a capital injection.

“I can easily see Joe & The Juice as a listed company as we deliver growth rates beating the industry average,” the CEO said.

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