Starbucks is to open its first motorway services outlet in the UK, in a change of heart as it explores new avenues of trading.
The American giant plans to open 29 sites at Welcome Break service stations over the next 16 months, replacing Welcome Break’s Coffee Primo own-brand.
It is understood that the Starbucks outlets will feature an updated, less corporate look, with reduced signage and a contemporary feel. Prices of the coffee have yet to be finalised. The deal came after Welcome Break approached Starbucks, which currently has 661 UK outlets, having been knocked back by the coffee chain in the past.
The first sites to be revamped will be at Oxford Services on the M40 and Hopwood Park on the M42 – these will open by the end of March or early April.
Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie said: “This will complement the expansion of the Waitrose estate within Welcome Break and is part of a significant investment by the company. We are looking forward to opening the 29 Starbucks and are confident that there is potential to open many more.”
Coffee Primo stores already sell 16 million cups of coffee a year, but McKie said he expected the deal with Starbucks to boost sales by at least 30% — a similar increase to that enjoyed by the rival Roadchef chain after it introduced Costa Coffee.
He said he had chosen Starbucks as a partner after detecting “a new attitude” in the business since the arrival of UK managing director Darcy Willson–Rymer, adding: “There’s a completely different approach.”
Starbucks’ Willson-Rymer said: “Customers’ expectations are rising and they want their coffee shops to be as good on-the-go as they are at home. We’ll meet those expectations by setting a new standard for coffee on the UK’s motorways.”
Starbucks is second only to Costa in store numbers in the UK, with 681 outlet, according to British Baker’s annual BB75 league table of bakery retailers. The chain was hit in 2009 by the closure of Borders book stores, where it had multiple concessions.