All Articles

2013 Articles

2012 Articles

2011 Articles

2010 Articles

2008 Articles

Costa Pulls out of Totnes

By Joe Cox

Costa Coffee has pulled out of Totnes, announcing it won’t be opening a coffee shop in the fiercely independent Devon town. The move is sure to delight many Totnes residents who campaigned to keep Costa out of Totnes which has 41 independent coffee shops (at the time of writing). Readers of this blog will know that I previously discussed the Costa controversy on these pages.

Planning approval had previously been granted by South Hams District Council for Costa to set up shop in Totnes, which prides itself on its alternative image, but it appears that the company decided to cut its losses in the fact of so much negative PR and pull out.

"Costa has recognised the strength of feeling in Totnes against national brands and taken into account the specific circumstances of Totnes," the company said. 

PR analysts seem to think that the decision could benefit Costa in the long run as it gives the impression that the company takes the opinions of communities it is moving into seriously. 

What does this mean for other coffee shop chains though? Does the Costa example set a precedent for other corporations and global franchises in the business of taking on independent outlets to sit up and take notice of?

The coffee shop revolution continues unabated for now and with companies like Tesco getting in on the act with their Harris & Hoole coffee shops, it looks like the opportunities for new business will almost always outweigh the potential negative publicity. In Bristol the fiercely independent Gloucester Road has not witnessed any such popular backlash against Costa, which was opened without the correct planning permission. 

In small towns like Totnes though it seems that communities are still close knit and organised enough to make things difficult enough that coffee giants like Costa will pull out if the going gets tough enough.

I suspect this may be an isolated case and a matter of damage limitation for Costa. But in this digital age one should never underestimate the power of people to organise themselves and rally public opinion. If there’s one thing that the coffee giants fear then it’s upsetting public opinion and damaging their brands. In this day and age it’s not just about selling coffee.

© 2018 Office Beverages

Bookmark and Share