Coffee #1

When the pandemic struck, Coffee #1 used Soldo to replace to petty cash in a hurry – and it’s made controlling spend 10x more effective in the process.







Key benefits

Cashless alternative to petty cash

Digital receipt management

Full oversight on spending across 100+ locations

Coffee #1 is a British coffee shop chain that started in Cardiff in 2001. Since then, it’s grown to over 100 locations across England and Wales, and in 2019 Caffè Nero acquired a majority stake in the business. Head of Finance, Shelley Wadey, and Profit Improvement Manager, Helen Byrne-Evans, tell us how they used Soldo to pivot when COVID-19 forced them to go cashless.

When the pandemic hit, Coffee #1 went cash-free to create a safer environment for both their employees and customers. This meant banking the cash floats from their stores, and only accepting card payment. But these measures created an unintended challenge – store employees used float from the till to make emergency purchases. With no money kept in store, they needed a new way to manage petty cash.

‘Soldo’s made controlling spend so much easier. I used to be able to check about 10% of receipts, now I can check 100%’
– Helen Byrne-Evans, Profit Improvement Manager, Coffee #1

The challenge: replacing petty cash quickly across 100 stores

While most of Coffee #1’s expenses are pre-ordered and invoiced, there are occasions when goods don’t arrive from a supplier or stores are otherwise caught short.

Before Coffee #1 started using Soldo, these costs were covered with cash straight from the till. Employees then had to scan and upload receipts to a server, but sometimes forgot to do so. And when they did forget, it was impossible for the finance team track how much was spent and where.

Not only was this process frustratingly manual, it also led to lots of issues around visibility and reporting. Helen, who works closely with the stores, says ‘It was very hard to control and to know if what they were spending was accurate.’

The finance team at Coffee #1 had spoken about finding a better way to do expenses before, but the idea had always seemed to slip down the priority list. Then came COVID-19.

Helen and Shelley needed to come up with a quick, cash-free solution to ensure stores had access to the money they needed. The ‘nice to have’ digital expense system now became a top priority.

The solution: Soldo’s prepaid cards

Luckily, parent company Caffè Nero had already had a successful cashless store trial with Soldo, so the decision was made to sign up for a three-month trial.

Getting buy-in from each store was crucial, and the rollout was well-received by staff. Even the fraction of less technically-minded store managers that were initially sceptical, were won over once they saw how easy Soldo is to use.

Staff can now safely make emergency purchases, and the finance team can easily send money to stores when needed. Not long after implementing Soldo, Helen and Shelley realised the benefits went beyond just going cashless.

The results: full oversight and control over costs

The finance team can track petty cash on Soldo cards far more accurately than they could when it came from the till. Whereas Helen used to only be able to check around one receipt in ten to ensure appropriate spending, she can now see every transaction in real-time.

Soldo’s built-in spending rules have helped the finance team get better visibility and control over spend – two areas that the business had wanted to improve for a long time but hadn’t been able to before. It’s also taken pressure off the store managers to enforce petty cash spending rules among staff.

‘Before, employees would pay for something and then ask for permission afterwards. Soldo gives us up-front control.’
– Shelley Wadey, Head of Finance, Coffee #1

Soldo is particularly effective at month’s end, when the team is reporting on cash and bank balances across the business. Shelley can take a quick look at the Soldo app to see exactly how much money is on each of the 100+ store cards and in the main company wallet. She can also easily pull this information into a report.

The initial trial has turned into a longer-term commitment, and Coffee #1 is already looking for ways to expand the use of Soldo throughout the business. Head office now has its own Soldo card, which is used for ordering goods online or making urgent purchases.

The finance team has been pleased to get a better grip on spending across the board – essential for a hospitality business recovering from the economic effects of a global pandemic. Shelley says ‘I fully expect that when we reopen and everything goes back to normal, we will be continue using Soldo for petty cash’.