THE GROWTH in coffee shop outlets is slowing but the majority of the sector remains positive about the current trading environment.
The Project Café11 report, compiled by Allegra Strategies, showed that the total number of coffee shops was growing at a rate of 4.5% on December 2011, compared to 6.3% in December 2010. There are currently 15,084 coffee shops outlets in total, including branded chains, non-specialists and independents in the UK.
Despite the challenging global economic climate and continued fears of a double dip recession in the UK, 83% of UK coffee sector executives describe the current trading environment for branded coffee shops as positive or neutral.
The report was published at the Allegra UK Coffee Leader Summit (http://www.ukcoffeeleadersummit.com/About-Allegra-Strategies.aspx). The growth in coffee shows was one of a number of themes that emerged during the day.
Tim Williams, St ALi UK director of operations, painted an honest, yet gloomy, picture of the sector, highlighting the fact that the preparation of coffee in the UK in still in its infancy. He warned that the independent operators have now become one big chain, creating carbon copy shops with the same coffee and machines, while independents have become complacent and need to stop self congratulating and take on board consumer feedback in order to grow.
Other discussion points included the increase in quality of coffee served by branded coffee chains as well as independents, the importance of continual innovation, the need to educate the industry and consumers and the challenge of keeping the balance between a brands core values and customer expectations and desires.
The role of food in the coffee shop sector was also a key theme, with the topic discussed in presentations from Tony Papas, Allpress Espresso MD, Jane Govey, Hummingbird Bakery commercial director and Debbie Melhuish, head of food development at Costa Coffee.