Costa Coffee pulls out of Totnes
By PGStrange | Thursday, October 25, 2012, 19:32
COSTA COFFEE has pulled out of Totnes. Although South Hams District Council had approved plans for the national coffee chain to open in the town, the company says it "recognises the strength of feeling" within Totnes against national brands and has decided not to go ahead with a new outlet on Fore Street...
Campaigners fought for three months against national chain Costa Coffee opening an outlet in Totnes. Costa has now pulled out of the town, saying it "recognized the strength of feeling in Totnes against national brands"
The old Greenlife premises on Fore Street that Costa Coffee was due to move into. Campaigners gathered more than 5,000 signatures against the coffee chain opening in Totnes
A message to Costa, penned three months ago and affixed to a shop window in Totnes, commenting on the fortunes of its parent company Whitbread
Costa's decision has been greeted with delight by opposition campaigners, who had been battling since early summer, gathering more than 5,000 signatures against the chain opening in Totnes. However a business leader is not convinced it's the best move for the town.
Costa Coffee already runs 19 outlets in Devon, employing nearly 200 people. But the 20th outlet was not to be, as Chris Rogers, managing director of Costa, explained in a letter circulated to Totnes residents.
"In all communities in which we operate, we seek to be a force for good, contributing to growth," said Mr Rogers. "Costa has recognized the strength of feeling in Totnes against national brands and taken into account the specific circumstances of Totnes."
The letter was co-signed by Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Councillor Pruw Boswell-Harper, Mayor of Totnes. They thanked Costa for being prepared to listen to the town's concerns and showing that they care.
Totnes has 41 independent coffee shops. There were concerns that jobs would be at risk and the town's "alternative" image could be affected if a national chain came into the town.
Campaign group notocosta.co.uk had spent three months battling against the chain opening an outlet on the high street. In a statement on its website, it said: "We are absolutely delighted to hear from Costa Coffee's Managing Director, Chris Rogers, of their decision to withdraw from Totnes. 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. This is a major milestone for local communities and is a day when the value of localism comes into its own…"
Tony Kershaw, a coffee shop proprietor in Totnes and a spokesman for notocosta.co.uk, told the BBC, "In opening [Costa] would probably have displaced as many if not more jobs in local independent cafes."
But not everyone's convinced by the news. Tim Jones, of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, told the BBC, "If Totnes is going to grow and thrive, it needs to embrace commercial development. It can't throw these barriers up and isolate itself from the realities of the marketplace, however well meaning that might be."
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