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UK retailers and hospitality venues boost sales with premium coffee offers

The Non-Specialist Report UK 2024 is World Coffee Portal’s first dedicated analysis of the UK’s fast developing non-specialist coffee market – defined as businesses within wider retail and hospitality settings that have a strong coffee or café-style concept to complement their core offer. The report shows that a growing number of UK hospitality and retail businesses are introducing premium in-store coffee concepts to boost sales, foster brand loyalty and elevate their value proposition

Download our infographic on the UK non-specialist coffee market | Photo credit: © World Coffee Portal

  • The Non-Specialists Report UK 2024 report identifies 11,039 points of sale in the UK
  • 12-month outlet growth remains flat, with 245 net openings across 24 of 69 brands offset by 245 net closures across 17 brands
  • Subway is the segment market leader with 2,158 sites, ahead of McDonald’s 1,450 and JD Wetherspoon’s 798 locations
  • Petrol and service stations, hotels and supermarkets are considered by industry leaders surveyed to be the most beneficial locations to position non-specialist coffee concepts


High-quality coffee offers widely deployed by UK hospitality and retail businesses

Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are the largest group of non-specialist coffee operators in the UK, followed by pubs & bars and supermarkets. Fast food chains Subway and McDonald’s have both introduced coffee ranges to anchor breakfast menus, with the latter’s McCafé concept competing effectively with high street coffee chains on value and speed of service.

In the pubs segment, JD Wetherspoon’s Lavazza self-serve unlimited refill offer has also proven highly popular among value-focused consumers.

Supermarket chain Waitrose continues to boost customer loyalty by leveraging the Caffè Nero brand for its free in-store coffee offer and recently launched an in-store café concession in partnership with Gail’s. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has made M&S Café a key pillar of its modernisation strategy.

Faced with growing competition from online traders, high street retailers are increasingly investing in premium in-store coffee concepts to boost footfall and foster brand loyalty, with health retailer, Holland & Barrett and telecoms giant EE both launching in-store coffee offers over the last 12 months.

Convenience is key but quality and value for money critical for success​

World Coffee Portal’s survey of over 2,000 consumers identified that convenience is the main purchase driver at non-specialist coffee locations. However, convenience alone is no guarantee that footfall will translate into sales given the multitude of premium options available to consumers in the highly developed UK branded coffee shop market.

While speed of service is considered the most important visit driver for UK consumers surveyed, nearly a quarter have avoided a concept due to poor customer service. This underlines that convenience must be complemented with a robust focus on quality and hospitality in the UK non-specialist coffee segment.

UK non-specialist coffee operators embrace automation – but many consumers prefer the human touch

UK consumers surveyed are evenly split on whether self-serve coffee machines or staff-led service are the most suitable formats for non-specialist locations, indicating both formats have growth potential when deployed in the appropriate context.

Automation and digital integration, such super-automatic coffee machines, digital ordering points and app-based transactions, are key trends in the UK branded coffee shop market. However, only a minority of UK consumers believe coffee from an automated machine rivals a barista hand-crafted beverage. Many – particularly 55s and over – strongly favour human interaction when ordering.​

Modest growth for UK non-specialist coffee segment ­– but plenty of untapped potential to boost sales with high-quality coffee

World Coffee Portal forecasts the UK non-specialist coffee segment will add 135 net new sites over the next 12 months, expanding 1.2% to reach 11,174 locations. However, the growing sophistication of UK coffee consumers means there is a robust market for premium coffee beyond typical coffee shop locations – with petrol stations, hotels and supermarkets all standing to boost sales and footfall by catering to high-quality coffee demand.

Commenting on the report findings, Allegra Group founder and CEO, Jeffrey Young, said: “The continued growth of UK non-specialist segment underlines the importance of premium coffee throughout the entire fabric of the UK economy. UK consumers’ thirst for coffee now converges in a multitude of locations and formats, providing a fertile opportunity for the growth of the market.”

The Non-Specialists Report UK 2024 is World Coffee Portal’s strategic analysis of the UK's supplementary out-of-home coffee market. The report includes market sizing, consumer research, industry consultations, pricing, operator profiles and strategic analysis of the latest industry dynamics.

To purchase the report or to make an enquiry, contact: enquiries@allegra.co.uk | +44(0)20 7691 8800


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