Welcome Break signs Starbucks franchise?

23 February 2006
Welcome Break signs Starbucks franchise?

Roadside group Welcome Break has denied reports it is planning to ditch its Coffee Primo café brand in favour of a franchise deal with Starbucks.

Several industry sources have said an agreement is in place following the successful tie-up between rival group Roadchef and Costa Coffee.

Roadchef chief executive Martin Grant said: "I understand a deal has been done and they have a test site lined up at Corley on the M6 near Coventry."

A Welcome Break source at the Corley service station refused to confirm to Caterer that a deal had been reached with Starbucks, but conceded that it "may be happening" in the future.

Another industry insider, who confirmed an agreement was in place, said: "It makes perfect sense. Welcome Break is now the logical roadside operator to do business with Starbucks."

The story was confirmed by a senior Welcome Break manager, a City analyst and a senior industry figure who said the pair had "been talking for ages".

Welcome Break, which has 24 UK sites, said it had "no announcement to make at this stage".

US coffee giant Starbucks also refused to comment.

Food service consultant Jonathan Doughty said: "Coffee Primo is a very good coffee unit but it looks just like Starbucks. If it happens, it's a logical progression that would make people pull off the motorway because of the big brand attraction."

The tie-up with Starbucks would follow Welcome Break's deal with KFC in May last year, which saw the roadside operator register a new company name to bypass signage laws.

It meant the group was able to change the signs at 19 of its units to read "Welcome Break KFC".

By Tom Bill

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