Costa Coffee ditches plans to open in Totnes after protest
Filed under: Shopping & Deals
So why was Totnes so against the idea of a local Costa Coffee?
CampaignThe Devon town had been campaigning against the arrival of the chain for months. Some 5,700 local people had signed a petition arguing that the brand should not be allowed to open a branch in the town - and pledging to boycott it. That's a staggering figure given the fact that it's equal to about three quarters of the town's population.
Never-the-less South Hams Council decided to grant Costa Coffee planning permission to open a branch. It was Costa that decided against the move. Chris Rogers, managing director of Costa, met with representatives from the town last week, and said he didn't want to railroad into towns.
Yesterday he issued a letter to the town, saying "Costa has recognised the strength of feeling in Totnes against national brands and taken into account the specific circumstances of Totnes." He confirmed that the branch would not open.
The local campaign group responded by issuing a statement saying: "We are absolutely delighted.... We are impressed Costa has taken the time to understand our town, its economy and the 5,700 people who signed the petition asking Costa to reconsider."
So why were they so concerned?Totnes is not a typical Devon town, it is well-known for its 'alternative' population. The high street is home to 41 independent coffee shops, along with crystal shops, alternative therapies and wholefood emporiums. The local people were concerned that once the chains moved in, the distinctive feel of the town would be damaged.
They have been accepting of other branded chain stores, such as WH Smith, but particularly wanted to protect the coffee shop as a distinctive and independent community hub.
Costa is unlikely to be particularly dented by the decision. With 1,390 stores in the UK, it's the biggest coffee brand in the country - with more stores than its two closest competitors put together.
It is also enjoying a boom in profits, and has seen its cash grow for 42 quarters in a row. Commentators have contrasted its tax-paying position with that of rival Starbucks, which has managed to pay just £8.6 million in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years.