Costa Coffee has opened its first store in Beijing, to coincide with the start of the 2008 Olympic games.

The Costa store, located in the Shang Di Shopping Mall, will be

the first opened under a joint venture between Costa’s parent company Whitbread plc and the Beijing Hualian Group.The JV intends to open 300 Costa coffee shops in Beijing and surrounding provinces in north-east China over the next few years.

Shang Di Mall is based in the Haidian District of Beijing, the centre of the IT industry. The agreement is Costa’s second JV in China - it already operates 25 stores in Shangai with Yueda Group.

Costa’s managing director John Derkach said:

"This is another major milestone for Costa. Our strategy has

always been to develop several different markets in China, to

fully capitalise on the vast opportunity presented by China’s

continued economic growth and aspiring young consumers.

"Today’s opening in China’s capital city further enhances Costa’s status as a major international brand."

Director of joint Ventures, Paul Smith, added: "Costa has been trading in Shanghai for 18 months and is already a favourite among Chinese customers.

"The stores in Shanghai are delivering strong sales growth and we have high expectations of our joint venture partnership in Beijing".