Independent Lincoln cafe claims Subway promotion stole business

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An independent Lincoln cafe claims that the national Subway promotion for Valentine’s Day is causing loss in trade for small local businesses.

However, other businesses in the area don’t appear to be impacted by the offer.

The owner of Little Lincoln Cafe Bar, which opened in July 2016, has claimed that the bespoke sandwich chain’s offer of a free six-inch sub when buying a large dispensed drink between 11 am and 7 pm has caused around a 66% drop in passing trade for his business on Tuesday.

The independent business offers customers a range of local produce on its menu, including Stokes Coffee and supplies from Foster’s Butcher & Bakers, based on Monks Road.

It also provides takeaway food as well as the option to eat in.

Jamie Buckland-Price, owner of Little Lincoln Cafe Bar

Jamie Buckland-Price, owner of the Little Lincoln Cafe, told Lincolnshire Business: “The Cafe’s been empty since 9.30 am until about 1 pm, whereas yesterday, the first day of half term we were packed most of the day.

“I have had to send a member of staff home already.”

People have been queuing outside Subway on both the High Street branch and the one on Guildhall Street and Jamie believes that he has lost around 66% of his business equating to £200 due to the national chain’s promotion.

People have also been queuing out the door at the High Street Subway branch in Lincoln

“We didn’t know that promotion was running and we just saw loads of people walking by laden with Subway,” Jamie said.

The Little Lincoln Cafe Bar does between 30% and 40% of regular trade and is reliant upon passing trade to make up the rest of its business, including students.

“We normally see about a dozen students a day but we have seen one so far. We normally see a lot of third-year students and particularly in half term, we get a lot of students in with their parents who come up to visit.

“We had a few yesterday but none today. Most the people that are in today are regulars. In half term normally we would be turning passing trade away.”

Promotion cap

In order to give independent businesses a chance, Jamie believes that there should be a promotion cap for national chains.

“I could give free food away all day but then for me, my mortgage wouldn’t get paid at the end of the month. Whereas multi-million pound turnover companies, the markup on post-mix drink is incredible.

“These are the weeks where we make our money.

“If they did this kind of thing on Christmas Market weekend, we would be in trouble.”

However, when Lincolnshire Business approached other cafes in the area, including Curtis on High Street and Rising Cafe on Newland, they said that trade had not been impacted.

Rising Cafe was full of customers and had not noticed a decline in trade where as Alisha Roast, manager of Curtis which is directly opposite the High Street Subway, said that they had actually been getting customers who got frustrated in waiting in the long line.

She said: “It’s not had any impact on us. People have been coming in our shop as well and people are getting excited saying, ‘Oh, what’s going on?'”