A major British coffee chain has willfully abandoned plans to open a retail location on High Street in one of the world’s most independent-coffee-loving towns, Totnes, in Devon, England. With a population of just over 7,000 residents, Totnes boasts more than 40 independent coffee shops, as well as a bustling ‘alternative’ scene of herbalists, artists and musicians.
Costa Coffee, considered to be the Starbucks of England with some 1,300 retail locations in the UK, had already secured planning board permission to open a retail location on Totnes’ main commercial corridor. But persistent pushback from residents has caused the company to jump ship, avoiding further negative publicity.
Following is the body of a letter signed by Costa Managing Director Chris Rogers, Member of Parliament Sarah Wollatson and Totnes Mayor Pruw Boswell:
To the people of Totnes,
We are sending this joint letter from Costa and the offices of the MP and Mayor for Totnes as we felt it was important to outline, together, the outcome of discussions held between us in early October.
Along with other representatives from Totnes, we had an open and constructive discussion. As a result of that discussion Costa has carefully considered the points made, listened and decided that it will not be opening on Totnes High Street.
In making this decision Costa has recognised the strength of feeling in Totnes against national brands and taken into account the specific circumstances of Totnes. Totnes is a town with a long and proud history of independent retailers, it has one of the lowest percentages of branded stores of any town of its size in the UK, very few empty shop fronts, as well as a very high proportion of places selling coffee.
Costa is a successful British business employing over 10,000 people, the majority of whom are under 25 years old. In Devon, Costa has some 19 stores, employs nearly 200 people and sources a large quantity of milk as well as other products from local farms and producers across the County. At its heart, Costa cares about what customers want and seeks to be a force for good in the communities in which it operates, contributing to growth, creating jobs and supporting local projects and activities.
As your MP and Mayor, and speaking on behalf of the people of Totnes, we would like to thank Costa for being prepared to listen to our concerns and showing that they care. We would also like to recognise the valuable contribution that Costa continues to make to communities across Devon.