In UK, coffee and hotel stays go hand in hand
In UK, coffee and hotel stays go hand in hand
18 SEPTEMBER 2017 7:26 AM

With the U.K. soon to have approximately 25,000 coffee outlets, there appears to be no end to the love affair consumers have with both coffee and hotels.

One does not have to go too far back to a time when it was near impossible to get a cup of coffee in the United Kingdom—at least a decent one, something an Italian could savor.

One of the most popular TV advertisements in the 1970s and ’80s was a soap opera-style campaign for an instant, granule coffee, and that was the only type of coffee it was possible to get.

Rather in the way olive oil was only sold in the U.K. as a remedy for dried skin, coffee merely was tasteless heat.

Today, according to analyst Allegra World Coffee Portal, there are more than 25,000 coffee shops, branded or otherwise, selling what we consider coffee—espresso, latte and cappuccino.

Finance firm Citi suggests that in five years, the U.K. might reach caffeine saturation in terms of outlets, the BBC reports. Apparently, we Brits drink approximately 2.3 million cups of coffee, some 45 cups for every adult.

Hotel News Now covers publicly listed Whitbread PLC because of one of its two trading pillars is hotel brand Premier Inn, but its other pillar is Costa Coffee, which has outlets in some of the firm’s hotels.

For Whitbread, I think, the two pillars are aligned. Both speak of the desire for leisure, for cherished moments, which I also think was the message behind those corny 1970s advertisements for Nescafé Gold Blend.

On 12 September, Citi released an overview on the European hotels and leisure industry, which states in part that “only (approximately) 4-5 years structural growth remain in the U.K. coffee market.”

Citi suggested shareholders ponder where coffee-market growth might be in the next few years.

The argument on the other side is that the desire for leisure will increase and carry on increasing. That is not farfetched. My parent’s generation genuinely saw leisure as something that either could not be afforded to the degree it is today, or something that should not be shouted about if it could be attained.

Both hotel stays and coffee shop visits will increase as the world becomes ever smaller with social media, faster transport and 24-hour working lifestyles. Grab pauses in oases amid the battle to escape blowing, almost endless sands.

U.K. hotel and venue brand De Vere, which has had some huge changes in the last five years, relaunched Thursday armed with £100 million ($135.8 million) of Starwood Capital cash, and as part of SCG’s Principal Hotel Company.

The press release accompanying that launch states that “a new coffee shop concept, Burr & Co., has been placed in a number of updated properties and will continue to be introduced to the portfolio over the coming months.”

One of my colleagues is in no doubt as to coffee’s future.

Of course, Citi is just one analyst among many, so others will disagree. Whitbread, for one, is confident coffee and lodgings will remain popular, either separately or as a combined attraction.

Urban populations are growing, and seem likely to carry on growing, and an inherent notion of living in such places is the relaxing trip to the coffee shop or the snatched cup on the way to the office. And increasingly, too, the need to get away from all those tall buildings results in booking a weekend or two weeks away, often at hotels, which have more coffee.

Earlier this year, Whitbread opened the £38 million ($51.6 million) Paradise Street Roastery in Basildon, just outside of London.

Of course, it seems unlikely that any brand’s direction today is what it will be known for in 20 years, in the same way that no one would even have thought 20 years ago that places would exist where you can essentially only buy coffee.

Much in the same way, a huge segment of the hotel-staying population today previously would not have considered it possible for them to stay in a hotel.

Hotels were for other people.

As was espresso, a strange substance that travelers bravely took a chance on if they were lucky enough to find themselves in Milan or Rome.

There is future in hotels and coffee. I know this as I like both, and I also see this as a broad brushstroke across my life, since when I first started working, both enjoyable activities were as unlikely as they must have been for my parents.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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