Costa Limited, the operator of the nation’s favourite coffee shop brand, bought Life Coffee Cafes Limited (“LCC”) in a multi-million pound deal advised on by Smith Cooper Corporate Finance.

Smith Cooper Corporate Finance advised LCC’s shareholders, Simon Berry and Mark Upton, on the sale of LCC to Costa Limited, which is a subsidiary of Whitbread plc. Unusually, LCC operated 16 large, profitable Costa stores at retail parks and roadside locations rather than in the usual High Street locations. These special locations were spread across the whole of Southern England from St. Austell to Dartford, and northwards as far as Wolverhampton.

LCC was formed in 2005 and expanded quickly, now employing around 200 staff and recording sales approaching £10m. Smith Cooper partner John Farnsworth described LCC as “a really high quality operation with a capable and highly professional management team” and described the sellers as “very accomplished businessmen who have skillfully engineered rapid growth whilst maintaining very high quality standards”.

Costa operates around 60% of UK stores itself, the remaining 40% being run by franchisees. This deal marked the first time Costa had acquired a sizeable franchise business, a decision it considered on a case by case basis.

LCC’s owners have other propertyrelated business interests and intend to concentrate their efforts on those.

Costa is the UK’s leading coffee shop brand, and the fastest growing. There are over 1,800 stores and 3,600 Costa Express machines in the UK.

Simon Berry commented “Smith Cooper added great value to our sale process through their attention to detail and management of the professional team”. Mark Upton added “Smith Cooper guided us through the sale process in a co-ordinated and professional manner, dealing with the many challenges that face vendors in the sale process. It’s a journey for which you need confidence in the company advising you and I would recommend Smith Cooper to anyone selling a business”.

Jan 15

Smith Cooper Team
John Farnsworth
David Crump