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Booming UK coffee shop market outperforms UK retail sector

Estimated at 20,728 outlets the total UK coffee shop market* shows significant sales growth of 10% on last year and a total turnover in 2015 of £7.9 billion.

According to the latest report from Allegra World Coffee Portal: Project Café2016 UK, the branded coffee chain segment recorded £3.3 billion turnover across 6,495 outlets, following impressive outlet growth of 12% and delivering sales growth of 15%. 

After 17 years of considerable growth, the coffee shop sector continues to be one of the most successful in the UK economy. Costa Coffee, Starbucks Coffee Company and Caffè Nero remain the UK’s leading brands with more than 50% share of the branded chain market. Physical expansion by leading chains is a strong driver of growth, particularly market leader Costa which added 171 UK outlets and had sales growth of 14% in calendar year 2015.

Coffee quality is now expected and being constantly improved across the sector due to the influence from both artisan chains and independents. Increasing competition provides consumers with better choice of quality coffee at home, at work and from non-specialists.

The non-specialist sector took a further 2% share of the market and now represents 39% of the total coffee shop market, compared to the branded chains with 31% share and the independents with 30% share.


The UK coffee shop market is dynamic and rapidly growing. The report shows that the UK is becoming a nation of coffee connoisseurs and coffee shop visitors drink an estimated 2.2 billion cups of coffee per year in coffee shops. Costa is the number one seller of speciality coffee with an estimated 169 million cups sold annually and has also, for the sixth year in a row, been voted the nation’s favourite chain by Allegra’s independent panel of consumers.

Coffee shops are playing an increasingly important role in the UK, enhancing the social vibrancy of a community and contributing significantly to employment and the economy. The third wave/artisan coffee has raised consumer expectations about coffee quality and store design and the most successful brands are responding to this trend.

The artisan independent segment is becoming far more regionalised than ever and strong artisan independents are expanding into small chains with the support of consumer funding and traditional investment, following the success of leading small chains such as Taylor St. Baristas and Grind & Co.

The gradual decline of instant coffee consumption at home and the subsequent premiumisation of the at-home segment further increase the availability of speciality coffee and intensify the competition. Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about coffee and brewing at home is on the rise with 7% of consumers now having a range of third wave equipment (V60, aeropress, chemex etc.) compared with 2% in 2014.


Allegra predicts the total UK coffee shop market will exceed 30,000 outlets and £15 billion turnover by 2025, driven by branded coffee chain expansion and non-specialist operator growth.

The branded coffee shop segment is forecast to exceed £5.7 billion with more than 8,500 outlets by 2020. 


The future coffee shop marketplace will be shaped by increasing consumer participation and desire for premium quality coffee anywhere at any time, which will drive improved coffee offers across a broader set of channels.

UK consumers will become even more informed about the subtleties of coffee preparation and delivery from bean to cup, in particular origin and roast, as well as the importance of milk foaming and water quality. Allegra expects to see a significant increase of multi-brand strategies by leading operators and increased investment in artisan brand concepts.

The Project Café2016 UK Report is now available to purchase from Allegra World Coffee Portal.

Download the press release.

* The total coffee shop market includes branded coffee-focused and food-focused chains, independents, and non-specialist players including supermarket cafés, department store cafés, retail shops with cafés, pubs, hotels, motorway service stations, forecourts and fast food outlets.
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