Costa Coffee owner Whitbread has announced that it has acquired 49% of London-based food-to-go chain Healthy Retail Ltd, which trades as Pure, for £6.8m.

Whitbread has joined the UK food-to-go sector with the acquisition of 49% of Pure for £6.8m. Pure will continue to be run by its existing management team, and Whitbread has the option to buy the remaining 51% within five years.

Pure has eight shops in London, but there are plans for further developments.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “I am very impressed by Pure, which appeals to health-conscious busy people, offering a choice of natural fresh food. As the UK’s largest hospitality company, it’s vital that Whitbread has its finger on the pulse of consumer trends and that we innovate with new formats and concepts.

“I see considerable opportunities to grow the brand, and by taking a stake in Pure we fast become part of a business that specialises in the exciting growth market for natural, healthy takeaway food and drink.”

Spencer Craig, founder and managing director of Pure, said: “We’re growing fast and have plans to open more shops over the next three years. With Whitbread’s backing and support we are looking forward to sharing our food with many more people and injecting further pace into building the Pure brand and expanding our network of shops.”

Last month Whitbread reported that UK retail sales at Costa were up 15.7% in the year ending 3 March.