Bear Coffee, the West Midlands speciality coffee operator, has secured its third site, in Stone, and is eyeing two more for early 2019, MCA has learnt.

The concept, which is backed by former Clare’s Accessories finance director Chris Price, has taken a 2,500sq ft site in the Staffordshire town on the High Street next door to Costa Coffee.

Bear founder Craig Bunting told MCA the former bank site fitted into his strategy of taking on disused buildings in smaller communities.

He said he was also considering opening a secret cocktail bar in the basement of the Derby coffee shop, which could open under a new, potentially scalable brand.

Bunting has previously told MCA he wanted to open 30 sites in five years.

He said: “Stone fits in with exactly what we’re looking for – sites in medium cities and affluent market towns. While there’s a risk of having quieter moments, you do have the opportunity of creating loyal customers and a sense of community.

“What we don’t want to do is open in a city and be quite passive, we want to develop relationships, and I think that might come from word of mouth, and from smaller sites in smaller communities.”

Bunting said he was speaking with banks and agents about taking leases in former branch buildings.

He added: “We seem to be looking at a lot of banks at the moment. They often have long leases and the bank will just close them and leave them empty.

“It’s a positive thing for them to lease the space to a small indie start-up to take the unused space.”