Costa Coffee Set to move to China

Costa Cofee, the UK's fastest growing coffee chain and part of Whitbread PLC, today announced a deal that will see the coffee brand expand into China.

Whitbread PLC has agreed a Joint Venture agreement with Chinese partner Yueda Group to launch the Costa brand in Shanghai and Eastern China. The first Costa store is scheduled to open in early 2007 and the aim is to open over 300 Costa stores throughout China in the next few years.

The Costa team based in Shanghai will work closely with the Yueda Group to develop the Costa product for the Chinese marketplace. Coffee will be supplied from Costa's Roastery in Central London and the stores will also serve the traditional Costa menu of food items.

Alan Parker, Chief Executive, Whitbread PLC commented: China is a very attractive market making this a major deal for Costa. There is an established coffee culture and increasing interest in drinking coffee out of the home so there is consumer demand for the product. We will be exporting our unique coffee product and 35 years of Italian coffee heritage to China and are confident that it will be well received.

He continued: The Yueda Group, headed by Founder and Chairman Mr Hu Youlin, have been tremendous in making this venture possible and I am confident that we have created a successful business model in what is one of the most dynamic economies in the world.

The expansion into China marks another significant step in fulfilling Costa's strategy to become a global coffee brand. Costa already trades in fourteen countries including India, Ireland and a number of territories in the Middle East. Costa Coffee