Chris Rogers, managing director of the Whitbread-owned coffee shop business, wrote a letter to local residents of Totnes, the BBC News website revealed, explaining the company had “recognised the strength of feeling” against national brands in the town.
He added that Costa had taken into account the “specific circumstances” of Totnes, which is home to more than 40 independent coffee shop businesses, and came to the decision following discussions with local groups.
Costa gained approval for the new site on Fore Street from South Hams District Council back in August, but felt the brunt of the anti-Costa campaigning group NoToCosta, which managed to accumulate more than 5,700 signatures on a petition against the move.
NoToCosta published a statement on its website last week, which said: “This is a major milestone for local communities and is a day when the value of localism comes into its own, albeit belatedly. Unfortunately, we’re now left with a situation where planning has been granted for change of use. We’d encourage South Hams District Council to learn the lesson that Costa Coffee has had to correct. If localism means communities have the right to decide what happens in their towns, its time for planners to understand this as well.”
The letter to Totnes’ residents was also signed by the town’s MP Dr Sarah Wollaston and Mayor Pruw Boswell, who thanked Costa for “listening to our concerns and showing they care”.
Last week, Whitbread announced as part of its financial results for the six months to 30 August 2012 that Costa had opened 141 net new coffee shops, taking its total store count to 2,344.
The company featured on British Baker's BB75 list of the top 75 UK bakery firms as this year’s fastest-growing business, adding 852 new stores to its estate over the last five years and opening stores at more than twice the rate of high street bakery retailer Greggs.