Fears coffee chain is eyeing up former music store site

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

AN INDEPENDENT cafe chain has announced it plans to open in the former Blackwell’s Music Shop in Oxford.

But traders in Broad Street fear that coffee chain Costa is eyeing up the same site and that it could “kill them off” if it moved in.

The shop at 23-25 Broad Street is owned by Oxford City Council and has been empty since June after historic Oxford bookseller Blackwell’s moved its music store into the basement of its bookshop across the road.

Last night family-run business Huffkins, which was established in Burford in around 1890, has confirmed it had put forward a bid to lease the former Blackwell’s site in Broad Street.

Director Richard Taee said: “We are really hopeful that the city council will want to encourage and support us in our bid as a locally- based family business seeking to grow. Huffkins currently employs more than 130 people within the region and an expansion into Oxford would not only create new jobs for the city but also at our craft bakery in Witney.

“We love flying the flag for traditional British baking in our tea rooms and shops across the Cotswolds.”

Traders close to the vacant shop in Broad Street said they would prefer to see Huffkins move into the site than “a big chain” like Costa which they have heard rumours of.

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Yesterday Costa said it was “currently evaluating opportunities in the Oxford area” but had “no firm plans in place at this stage”.

Manager of Cafe Crème Hakim Karrouchi said: “We would be really worried if Costa moved into the empty shop as we could suffer big time. This street is full of different independent shops and when tourists first come to Oxford they come here. If there was a big chain it would destroy the look of the street.”

Hamid El-Barhrhdad, manager of Heroes sandwich shop, agreed.

He said: “As a smaller business we are trying to survive. If we have another big chain opening it is going to kill us as there is already so much competition.

“It would not be good.”

Blackwell’s Music had been in Broad Street for 12 years, having moved from Holywell Street where it was set up in 1950.

Peter McMullin, who works in the printed music department in the new Blackwell’s music shop said he did not want to see another “big chain coffee shop”.

He added: “I would like to see a quality independent retailer move into the site as that would bring character back to an historical street.”

Louisa Dean, from Oxford City Council, said: “We are currently still going through the marketing process for the property that was occupied by Blackwell’s. “We need to wait for that process to be concluded before we can comment any further.”

HUFFKINS

  • Huffkins is an independent family business with its own craft bakery and a heritage that stretches back to 1890 when Mr Titcombe, baking in Burford, delivered bread and cakes to the villagers with his donkey and cart.
  • It has tea rooms in Burford and High Street, Witney. The Witney store opened in May 2005.

Comments (11)

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10:58am Thu 12 Sep 13

Arc/Weld says...

I personally never use Costa, I have found them to be too slow.
If you want good coffee in Oxford head to Combibos.
I personally never use Costa, I have found them to be too slow. If you want good coffee in Oxford head to Combibos. Arc/Weld
  • Score: -2

12:05pm Thu 12 Sep 13

sarahmw says...

If the council want 'predicable/bland/du
ll' then they should go for Costa. But if the council wants to introduce a vibrant local company which has a brilliant reputation in Burford and Witney - and could enhance the diversity of 'places to eat' and experiences in Oxford - then go for Hufflkins!
If the council want 'predicable/bland/du ll' then they should go for Costa. But if the council wants to introduce a vibrant local company which has a brilliant reputation in Burford and Witney - and could enhance the diversity of 'places to eat' and experiences in Oxford - then go for Hufflkins! sarahmw
  • Score: -1

12:29pm Thu 12 Sep 13

Oxon Chap says...

sarahmw wrote:
If the council want 'predicable/bland/du

ll' then they should go for Costa. But if the council wants to introduce a vibrant local company which has a brilliant reputation in Burford and Witney - and could enhance the diversity of 'places to eat' and experiences in Oxford - then go for Hufflkins!
The council have to legally get the market rate for the rent of the property that it owns. That along with the council policy of encouraging independent traders will allow Huffkins, if they are willing to pay the rent, to be the new tenant.
[quote][p][bold]sarahmw[/bold] wrote: If the council want 'predicable/bland/du ll' then they should go for Costa. But if the council wants to introduce a vibrant local company which has a brilliant reputation in Burford and Witney - and could enhance the diversity of 'places to eat' and experiences in Oxford - then go for Hufflkins![/p][/quote]The council have to legally get the market rate for the rent of the property that it owns. That along with the council policy of encouraging independent traders will allow Huffkins, if they are willing to pay the rent, to be the new tenant. Oxon Chap
  • Score: -113

3:15pm Thu 12 Sep 13

taetus.pulo says...

No more big chains please! Oxford has too many big high street names already and if we don't start standing up for independents we will soon be another unremarkable UK town with no point of difference and no character. We need good independent businesses!

Huffkins have an excellent reputation and I would love to see them in that site - they would lift the whole town.
No more big chains please! Oxford has too many big high street names already and if we don't start standing up for independents we will soon be another unremarkable UK town with no point of difference and no character. We need good independent businesses! Huffkins have an excellent reputation and I would love to see them in that site - they would lift the whole town. taetus.pulo
  • Score: -3

4:49pm Thu 12 Sep 13

EMBOX2 says...

Huffkins do amazing sandwiches, we always stop at the Burford shop to get lunch on the way to the Cotswolds. One in Oxford would be great, but we don't need another flipping Costa - they are awful!
Huffkins do amazing sandwiches, we always stop at the Burford shop to get lunch on the way to the Cotswolds. One in Oxford would be great, but we don't need another flipping Costa - they are awful! EMBOX2
  • Score: -71

10:30pm Thu 12 Sep 13

Sophia says...

so
so Sophia
  • Score: -42

10:32pm Thu 12 Sep 13

Sophia says...

I like Costas coffee
Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins?
Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally
I like Costas coffee Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins? Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally Sophia
  • Score: -38

4:47am Fri 13 Sep 13

Oxon Chap says...

Sophia wrote:
I like Costas coffee Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins? Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally
Good point
[quote][p][bold]Sophia[/bold] wrote: I like Costas coffee Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins? Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally[/p][/quote]Good point Oxon Chap
  • Score: -160

10:58am Fri 13 Sep 13

Manor Born says...

Sophia wrote:
I like Costas coffee
Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins?
Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally
The coffee may not be grown locally, but the food is certainly baked locally, using fresh ingredients from locally sourced producers. The knock on benefits for the economy of Oxfordshire as a whole are far more beneficial than a multi-national faceless company who care not a jot about the local community or area.

There's more than enough Costas in the city already and to be fair there are more than enough coffee shops. However if it is a straight choice between the two, then Huffkins would be a far better choice. Alas they will lack the financial clout of Costa and undoubtedly Costa will merely outbid them and we'll see another nail struck into the coffin of independent traders.
[quote][p][bold]Sophia[/bold] wrote: I like Costas coffee Why is this newspaper giving a free ad for Huffikins? Makes no difference to me that Huffikins is a local firm, as I believe the coffee is not grown locally[/p][/quote]The coffee may not be grown locally, but the food is certainly baked locally, using fresh ingredients from locally sourced producers. The knock on benefits for the economy of Oxfordshire as a whole are far more beneficial than a multi-national faceless company who care not a jot about the local community or area. There's more than enough Costas in the city already and to be fair there are more than enough coffee shops. However if it is a straight choice between the two, then Huffkins would be a far better choice. Alas they will lack the financial clout of Costa and undoubtedly Costa will merely outbid them and we'll see another nail struck into the coffin of independent traders. Manor Born
  • Score: -27

8:45am Mon 16 Sep 13

Andrew:Oxford says...

Costa within Waterstones closes at the end of this month in readiness for the move.

Perhaps Huffkins could take on that lease instead?
Costa within Waterstones closes at the end of this month in readiness for the move. Perhaps Huffkins could take on that lease instead? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -6

2:52pm Wed 18 Sep 13

bart-on simpson says...

Drink tap water...
Drink tap water... bart-on simpson
  • Score: 0

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