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Tesco’s Harris & Hoole Eye up A Spot in Crouch End’s Coffee Shop Crowded Highstreet

By Joe Cox

There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of news stories in the press at the moment about huge coffee shop giants taking over highstreets, crowding out other smaller independent cafes and enraging local populations. On these pages I have talked about Café Nero and Costa rocking the boat in local communities in Devizes, Totnes and Bristol. Now it seems (perhaps a little unsurprisingly given its track record on this front) that Tesco is ruffling feathers with eyes on a spot on the highstreet in fashionable Crouch End in North London. The latest store proposal of Tesco’s new Harris & Hoole brand into the coffee shop market is to be situated in the former Clinton Cards shop on the Broadway, only four doors up from Costa.

Local businesses have reacted cynically. Cllr David Winskill, speaking in the Tottenham and Wood Green Journal, was a little more circumspect in his language, saying “they [coffee shops] really bring a lot to Crouch End life but with nearly 10 per cent of our shop fronts selling coffee we must ask the question, have we reached saturation point?”

It’s certainly a hot topic at the moment and one that has ramifications well beyond the world of coffee. Companies like Tesco have always raised eyebrows with the expansion of their Tesco Express stores into a market place that has traditionally been dominated by newsagents and corner shops. The closure of independent pubs is another saddening side effect of a burgeoning corporate presence in the market. One thing’s for sure and that’s that these issues won’t go away. 

Tesco’s venture into coffee shop market with the acquisition of up to 49% of the Harris & Hoole coffee shop brand is a clear indication of the popularity of café culture in this country however. And from that I can take a little comfort. Because whilst it is somewhat depressing to see a Costa, Starbuck’s and now it seems a Harris & Hoole, all within a stones throw from each other on the same high street, it is the opinion of this coffee lover that the army of true coffee aficionados out there will still seek out the finer flavours of the independents.

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