It’s the multibillion-pound industry that kept on growing, based on a bean that Britons couldn’t seem to get enough of: coffee.
Until, that is, the pandemic struck. As is the case with many businesses hit hard by coronavirus, the ubiquitous coffee chains that have powered city centres and high streets across the UK are in deep trouble.
This week, Costa announced it is cutting more than 1,500 jobs. Pret a Manger is losing almost 3,000 staff and closing 30 outlets – while independents from The Exploding Bakery in Exeter to Kaffeine in central London have reported a slump in customer numbers.
The problems are laid bare in figures that would undermine any business model: spending on takeaway hot drinks in the UK slumped nearly 90% in April, the peak of the high street lockdown, according to the market research firm Kantar.