Costa Coffee quietly opened the doors of its Southwold shop on Tuesday afternoon with an official opening the following day.

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Staff handed out vouchers for a free cup of coffee around the town this week, but apart from that there was little fanfare for the new store, which has been fiercely opposed by local businesses and residents.

The first full day of trading appeared to be going well, with a steady stream of customers through the door and most of the tables full.

It all seems a far cry from the scenes last year when the plans were revealed. In a classic case of locals rebelling against the rampant increase in multi-national chain stores, scores protested against the plans.

Just as they have done in similar cases up and down the country.

Store manager Glenn Crane, who previously managed the Costa Coffee outlet in Tesco, Beccles, said the shop had been busy since opening at 7am on Wednesday morning.

“We had workmen in at 7.10am wanting coffee,” he said.

“We are surprised at how busy it has been.”

The store employs 11 full and part-time staff with more than 400 people applying for the roles when they were advertised last year.

Mr Crane said he was aware of the opposition in Southwold but he believed people had the wrong impression of Costa.

“We do charity work and fundraising for schools,” he said. “People in Southwold haven’t seen that side of it. All they see is the Whitbread sign but it is how the individual store manager interacts with the community that makes the store.”

The town council and more than 600 people objected to Costa’s plans to take over the former Fanny & Frank clothes shop amid concerns it could harm the town’s “unique character”.

But despite the opposition, its plans were given the go-ahead by Waveney District Council’s development control committee in August.

Southwold mayor Michael Ladd said he would not be using Costa and encouraged other people to do the same.

“I definitely won’t be using it because I don’t agree with their tactics,” he said. “I will continue to support local, independent tea and coffee shops. Independents have more to offer the community. They get involved in community events and we saw that last year with the diamond jubilee, Olympic flame and Christmas lights.”

He added: “We have to accept that they have opened but it won’t stop us fighting in the future and doesn’t mean we should go and support the corporate chains.”

John Perkins, of The Southwold and Reydon Society, echoed Mr Ladd’s calls and urged people to boycott the High Street shop.

He said tourists visited Southwold because it was unique and competition force other businesses out – as well as reduce the attractiveness of Southwold as a tourist town.

“This will have a devastating effect on the independent coffee shops and restaurants,” he said.

“We decided against any formal protest and just agreed the best reaction was to simply not use the Costa Coffee shop. The advice to all our members is not to use it. We are also encouraging local people and tourists not to use Costa.”

Guy Mitchell, chairman of Southwold Chamber of Trade, urged people to “value the fact that Southwold offers something a little different” rather than “settling for the bland cloned option served up throughout the country”.

He said it was not surprising Costa had a busy start as people would have been curious to see what all the fuss was about and been attracted by the offer of free coffee.

He said it was harder to quantify those who had taken the decision not to use it but there had been “more than a handful” of objections to Costa’s planning application in the summer.

He added: “If residents and visitors value the unique character of the town we hope that they will continue to support our local independent businesses in the same way that many of those businesses support the community.”

19 comments

  • The mayor should not be telling people what to do, if he chooses not to use Costa Coffee that is up to him, but, he should keep that to himself. Personally, I don't care if I never go to Southwold again, they have already made it clear they do not want disability scooters and buses in the town, they are so far up their backsides they do not deserve to have visitors. Last summer I went to buy an ordinary ice-cream and was shocked at the price so walked out of the shop without one, down the road in Lowestoft along the seafront the same make of ice-cream costs £1, their seafront is clean ad equally as good so will always go there in future, and they even rent out disabilty scooters to those that might need them! Surely it is better to have Costa Coffee in Southwold than an empty shop? And, no, I do not use Costa Coffee, but, let the people decide for themselves. Gt. Yarmouth is a ghost town now with many empty shops and is not a pleasant place to visit, if Southwold continues to put people off opening shops etc. they too could end up the same.

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • I just cannot understand the grounds for objecting to Costa when the town is already stuffed with national High Street names. Much rather have a coffee shop than all these over-priced, very niche-market clothes shops that keep opening whenever a unit becomes available.

    Report this comment

    Tal

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Welcome Costa! even some of the detractors have been in and changed their opinion whilst another resident I spoke with yesterday was too scared to go in as she didn't want to upset the powers that be in the town who had told everyone quite publicly not to use Costa. Oh dear, feudalism rules I fear. It's up market, its different (for Southwold) its clean friendly and great coffee - an asset to the town and complements the other eateries and cafes - they are all different and all offer excellent products and service. Something for everyone, long may Costa remain and be successful.

    Report this comment

    HH

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • Disgraceful comments from Mr Ladd And Mr Perkins.11 jobs created from over 400 applicants, an empty shop now in use, They are just middle class snobs.

    Report this comment

    caleb

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • oh dear Mr Ladd and his mates need to lighten up ..... 'we won't stop fighting' what does that mean? guess they will end up fighting themselves in the mirror! Put your petty prejudices aside please, enjoy Costa - it's worth frequenting, the staff, the environment and the and product are excellent. Yes it may be part of a chain but it's an individual outlet - they are all different!

    Report this comment

    HH

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • You can not just have a pint in the pub but they do teas and coffees there as well nowadays .

    Report this comment

    yarco

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • Archant EDP has welcomed me and asked me to leave a comment - I have left 2 comments but they haven't bothered to upload them ... hmmm .... is this selective rather than eclectic ...

    Report this comment

    HH

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Little Englanders in despair?

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • The whole character of the town has been ruined by allowing the rich chelsea set in and pricing locals out. Other major retailers for example Co Op, Fat Face, and WH Smiths have stores in the town, so what's the problem?? As others have said, jobs have been created and the public will make their choice. I will certainly oppose the next expensive boutique or art gallery the Chelsea set would like to have in the town.

    Report this comment

    carltonman

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • Costa haven`t been run out of town yet, then? I hope the locals don`t dam the creek & stop the shop`s water supply. Wetherspoon`s next up...... 2nd attempt to beat the censors. Costa`s "bland, cloned" beverages will certainly beat some of the insipid stuff I`ve been sold hitherto in Southwold, Guy Mitchell!

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Same story all over. Look at supermarkets - people oppose the opening of a new Tesco, it opens, they then shop there. Costa will be busy long after the free vouchers have run out. Telling people not to go there is rather a negative message, and people don't like being told what to do. Much better to promote the alternatives and encourage people in to taste and see the difference - assuming there is one.

    Report this comment

    a fine city

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • Why go in a coffee shop when you can have a pint in a pub? Talk to the landlord, chat to the locals or have a game of darts, pubs make towns and communities, coffee shops are no better than charity shops in the scheme of things.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • If that is one thing I can`t stand and that is being told what I can or cannot do. Mr Ladd`s pompous comments will only ensure that I pop into Costa Coffee the next time I visit Southwold.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • Sorry Caleb but Costa will cause Job losses for more than the 11 people they employ. That is how Costa works.......Their prices will soon increase once the opposition has been destroyed. I refuse to use Costa wherever I go for that reason. Look at the long term effects, not the short term...

    Report this comment

    viperman17

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • They haven`t been run out of town yet, then. I just hope the locals don`t dam the creek & starve the shop of water. Wetherspoon`s next up......

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • I fully agree with you, John Bridge, I would also much rather go in a pub for a pint. Hopefully there will soon be a Wetherspoons in Southwold to provide some real competition!

    Report this comment

    Mr Milliband S'Even-Bigger-Porkpies

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • not a nice attitude i have run firms my self i never had a bad word to say about others vary bad[ advice donot tell other what to do] and what tactics its a small coffee shop

    Report this comment

    john taylor

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

  • Costa in Southwold? Great! Now there is something for everyone. The town has lots of T shops and eateries each offing something different and Costa completes the picture. Unfortunately as there is not a huge amount to do folk have taken to negative prejudice, based in gossip and with no experience of any Costa. Some of the 'no's' have braved a visit and have found how good it is, but dare they return if their friends are looking? Don't think Costa has anything really to worry about, like each of the shops in Southwold they offer something different and this is of such good quality, those who keep carping against it will soon be found to have nothing with which to back their prejudiced argument! Good Luck Costa, great you are in Southwold.

    Report this comment

    HH

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Repeatedly blocked. agree with Citizen of the EUSSR.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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