How Costa became the UK’s biggest coffee chain

Costa has grown from a small company founded in London 47 years ago to the UK’s largest coffee chain.

The brand was launched by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa with a single store in Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria, in 1971.

The business was sold to Whitbread for £19 million in 1995, when it had only 39 shops.

Costa grew to become the UK’s largest chain, with 40% of the UK coffee shop market.

It has more than 1,500 branches on high streets, garage forecourts and motorway service stations and a further 900 overseas.

These include more than 300 outlets in 28 cities in China and a branch in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Worldwide sales hit £1 billion in 2013, with a target of £2.5 billion in 2020.

Sales at Costa have been affected by Britain’s high street woes and fell by 2% in the UK in the first quarter of this year.

Whitbread announced on Friday that it has struck a deal to sell the chain to Coca-Cola for £3.9 billion.