How Costa became the UK’s biggest coffee chain

The original Costa Coffee shop in London’s Vauxhall Bridge Road (John Stillwell/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Costa Coffee owner Whitbread is to sell the cafe chain to Coca-Cola for £3.9 billion.

Costa has grown from a small company founded in London 47 years ago to the UK’s largest coffee chain.

The brand was launched by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa with a single store in Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria, in 1971.

The business was sold to Whitbread for £19 million in 1995, when it had only 39 shops.

Costa grew to become the UK’s largest chain, with 40% of the UK coffee shop market.

28

Number of cities in China with Costa Coffee outlets

It has more than 1,500 branches on high streets, garage forecourts and motorway service stations and a further 900 overseas.

These include more than 300 outlets in 28 cities in China and a branch in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Worldwide sales hit £1 billion in 2013, with a target of £2.5 billion in 2020.

Sales at Costa have been affected by Britain’s high street woes and fell by 2% in the UK in the first quarter of this year.