Pair gets $200,000 after sale of doomed coffee franchise

A FAMILY lured to the Northern Rivers to take up a doomed mobile coffee franchise has been awarded more than $200,000 in damages.

Iain and Kristy Brotherson sued Hurstle Pty Ltd and Brian Smallwood over false misrepresentations made in the lead up to their purchase of an Expresso 2 Go van.

The Queensland District Court heard the couple was living in Canberra and earning more than $100,000 a year when they decided to make a change and head to the North Coast three years ago.

Online they found the Expresso 2 Go, which offered franchises for a one-off fee of $135,000 plus GST.

A paragraph on the site promised: "During the initial training period we work with you to build your business, establish your customer base and define your daily run…we guarantee that prior to hand over your new business will have achieved a turnover of at least 100 cups of coffee in a day".

The court heard the Brothersons were interested in setting up in the Lismore/Ballina region but wanted a feasibility study to be carried out.

They were later told that based on the study results "Lismore was so good (the company) put three vans there".

Before starting up, Mr Brotherson was taken on a tour to another franchise at Murwillumbah and told it was 'the lowest performing franchise, that the franchisees were old and slow but that they were still averaging about 107-108 cups per day".

The defendants claimed that it was never promised that 100 cups would be sold every day but Judge McGill said "to say a business has a particular level of turnover is different from saying a business happened to achieve a particular number of sales on one particular day"

He said it was "quite clear' that when they sought to set up a business in Lismore, the town did not have anywhere near the capacity to turn over 100 cups of coffee per day.

The defendants were ordered to cover the Brothersons' court costs and pay them out $202,732.58.



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