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Tue 24th Apr 2018 - Boston Tea Party becomes first coffee chain to ban disposable cups
Boston Tea Party becomes first coffee chain to ban disposable cups, owner admits move is ‘huge risk’ as £1m in sales under threat: Sam Roberts, owner of all-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party, has admitted to Propel its move to ban all single-use coffee cups is a “huge risk” but is a lead he hopes other operators will follow. Boston Tea Party, which operates 21 cafes, stands to lose more than £1m in takeaway coffee sales from Friday, 1 June when it will become the UK’s first coffee chain to bring in such a ban. Takeaway hot drinks are 5.2% of Boston Tea Party’s total turnover of £19.8m. The company is asking customers to make the move to reusable cups. They can bring their own reusable cups, take advantage of a cup loan scheme or buy a cup in-store. Roberts said: “We’ve already done a lot by getting rid of plastic straws and we were one of the first companies to introduce a discount on reusable coffee cups – but it’s not enough. We want to demonstrate to other operators that to make a difference, a big change is required. We will make this work and we’ll share details of how we’ve done it with anyone who wants our help to do the same. Lots of coffee chains are making pledges about how they plan to tackle cup waste in the future – but that is too far away and we need to stop right now. Yes, it’s a bold move and a huge risk as we stand to lose more than £1m. Only time will tell if it’s the right move but we have to be bold. We hope others will join the party.” Boston Tea Party said its 25p discount for customers bringing their own cups had seen only a 2.8% take up – not enough to make an environmental difference. Only one in 400 (0.25%) of the estimated 2.5 billion plastic-coated coffee cups used in the UK each year are recycled. About 4%, approximately 500,000, end up as litter every day with the rest (95.75%) going into landfill. Many compostable alternatives also end up in landfill as there aren’t enough accessible facilities in the UK to compost them. Meanwhile, Roberts told Propel the company would continue to look at expanding at a rate of three or four sites a year. Its latest opening will come next month in Chichester, West Sussex, where the company has converted a former mill in Baffins Lane. Roberts added: “There are a number of deals we are trying to get over the line and expansion is very much on the cards. We will continue to run a sustainable, ethical coffee chain and we’re not going to roll out at a rate of ten to 15 sites a year.”

Hospitality leads the way for British independent site openings: Hospitality businesses led the way for independent site openings in Great Britain in 2017, according to the latest report by The Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association. The number of restaurants and bars rose by 172 sites compared with 2016, a net increase of 6.48%. However, there was a net fall in the number of Indian restaurants, with 136 fewer sites last year (minus 2.87%). Bars alone increased by 110 sites (2.86%), while the number of pubs was down 281 venues compared with 2016 (minus 2.87%). Another key growth sector, however, was cafes and tea rooms, with a net increase of 324 sites compared with 2016, a 2.04% rise. Overall, the number of independent leisure sites, a category that includes restaurants and cafes, rose 0.15% in 2017 compared with the previous year, a net increase of 132 units. The independent convenience stores category, which includes bakers, butchers, food shops and supermarkets, saw a net decrease of 266 units (minus 0.88%) in 2017. Across all categories covered by the report, the only regions to register an increase in sites were West Midlands (up 230 sites, 1.01%) and the north west, which ended 2017 with one more site than the previous year. The region with the largest fall was Yorkshire and the Humber, which had 460 fewer sites (minus 1.58%), while Greater London was also down 374 units (minus 0.54%). The town with the greatest percentage of independents (more than 50 sites) was London’s Portobello (95%), while Telford was the lowest (19%). Retail parks saw a net increase of 44 units in 2017 (7.26%), while high streets saw a decrease of 476 units (minus 0.28%), and shopping centres saw a fall of 88 units (minus 1.07%). LDC relationship manager Chris Fowler said: “The need for customisation and providing a personal service will continue to fuel the openings of independents on our high streets but the threat of closure remains high due to the marginal nature of some businesses. Yet there is evidence in the historic LDC data to suggest once an independent retailer has survived the first three years, they are more resilient and more likely to survive than the multiples in our large towns.” Independents account for 65% of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain, the same as in 2016.

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