Coffee chains brew up 20-fold rise in outlets since 1998

The number of coffee chain outlets across the UK has surged more than 4,000 over the past 17 years, according to a study published today.

CBRE said there were just 215 franchised coffee shops in the UK 17 years ago but there are now more than 4,200. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The analysis from property adviser CBRE shows there were 4,234 franchised coffee shops at the end of last year, compared with just 215 in 1998.

Based on data from researcher Retail Locations, the report also shows there were three times more fast food and take-away chains than 17 years earlier.

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CBRE’s Seb Howard said: “Not only has the coffee shop chain sector proved resilient over the years, it’s demonstrated remarkable growth.

“Consumers now demand convenience when they go out, and the ability to cater to this has been a huge springboard for this market. Likewise, the success of fast food and restaurant chains is further evidence of the role leisure is playing on a daily basis.”

Coffee sales grew by 10 per cent last year to reach just under £8 billion, according to data from market research firm Allegra World Coffee Portal. Its Project Café 2016 UK report found an estimated 2.2 billion cups are consumed every year in coffee shops.

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Costa, owned by leisure group Whitbread, is the UK’s largest coffee chain with almost 2,000 branches – a figure that it hopes to grow to 2,500 by the end of the decade.

Announcing its annual results last month, Whitbread pointed to a study by Allegra that said branded chains have grown by about 6 per cent a year since 2008, with further growth expected over the next few years.

“Nevertheless, UK coffee consumption remains relatively low in comparison to many other developed countries,” the group said.

“While coffee venues continue to act as social and community hubs, customers’ demands are evolving. Convenience and coffee quality remain essential but customers are becoming more sophisticated with fresher food, faster service, better loyalty schemes and a greater digital experience becoming increasingly important to drive customer satisfaction and grow revenue.”

Elsewhere in the retail space, the CBRE report showed that more than 1,000 footwear stores have closed over the past 17 years as other retailers muscled in on their territory by expanding their ranges.

But the number of clothing chain store has grown by 47 per cent since 1998, with H&M seeing its estate expand from 25 to 239. Rival Zara, which had no high street presence in the UK 17 years ago, had 78 outlets by the end of 2015.