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.

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 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.