Costa Coffee has been lambasted for strangling independent chains after it opened its eleventh branch in Cheltenham despite 70 per cent of residents saying they don’t want it.
The High Street giant is about to open a new outlet immediately next door to rivals SOHO Coffee Co at a prime site in the so-called “coffee capital”.
It will mean a total of 19 big-name coffee shops in the centre of the spa town – in addition to a wide range of independent cafes.
They include four SOHO Coffees, two Caffe Nero’s, a Boston Tea Party and a Starbucks.
The new High Street Costa will be a short walk from two others – one at a former pub site in Imperial Circus and the other in Waterstones bookshop in the Promenade.
Many locals say the town is well past coffee saturation point.
In a recent poll of 300 readers for the local newspaper an overwhelming 72 per cent said they did not welcome the new Costa.
Admin assistant Jane Fisher, 38, said, “This is getting ridiculous now. I actually like drinking Costa, but I already know where to go to get one.
“It would be lovely to see some other brands moving into Cheltenham rather than the same one – Zara is top of my list.”
Retail supervisor Jack Dunham, 23, said, “It’s such a lovely building, so I think it’s good news that it’s being used.
“But to be honest I’m disappointed because I don’t really think we need another Costa.”
Councillor Garth Barnes, Chair of the Planning Committee for Cheltenham Borough Council, said he hoped there would be no negative impact on the independent cafes.
He said: “I’m not one to object to commercial enterprise or competition between businesses, but Costa do seem to be over-egging it.
“They’re appearing on every available street corner countrywide.
“We have a lot of well-used independent coffee shops with good ambience and I would hope that people would continue to support our home-grown businesses.”
Costa have cited research by Allegra Strategies arguing that coffee shops are good for town centres.
It claims: “Branded coffee shops generate high levels of patronage, they have become an established town centre user and they are attractors in their own right.
“Coffee shopes are one of the main social hubs on the High Street and are seen as safe places to go where people from all backgrounds can congregate.”
“93 per cent of consumers in case study locations agreed that coffee shops improved the vitality of their local High Street.
“The presence of coffee shops on a High Street encourages 75 per cent of consumers to shop for longer and 68 per cent of consumers interviewed would choose to visit another High Street if the one they were on did not have a coffee shop.”