Despite an overly ambitious expansion plan last year, Esquires Coffee Houses is still aiming for growth in 2010, with 10 new franchise outlets on the cards.

In February 2009, British Baker reported on the coffee chain’s plans to open another eight franchised stores by summer 2009. But due to the tough climate, the firm only achieved seven new store openings over the whole year, with its 30th store opened in Sutton in December.

However, following a like-for-like sales increase of 2% during 2009, MD of Esquires Coffee Houses UK Peter Kirton said the firm aimed to open the first five of its planned outlets over the next few months, with another five by the end of 2010. "Indications have shown that sales so far this year have started at a similar if not increased capacity," he said.

Despite the wide geographical spread of the outlets, Esquires currently has no stores in the south west of England, which is something Kirton is hoping to change. "For whatever reason, we don’t get a lot of enquiries from the south west, but we are looking to open at least one outlet in this area over the next 12 months," he said. The remainder of the outlets will be "scattered over most of England".

Esquires has also just launched a premium tea offer whole leaf tea, made in a teapot which Kirton said had proved very popular.