Costa Coffee, the Whitbread-owned chain of coffee shops, has acquired a third outlet for its new look “metropolitan” style stores amid plans to rollout the design across London and other regional cities, M&C Report has learnt. The group already has two of its next generation style units in operation – at Great Portland Street in London and at Crowcross Street in Farringdon. Described as a “sleek hybrid design”, the two outlets mark a clear departure from Costa’s current interior design features, which have been in place since around 2004. A third will open shortly in Islington after Whitbread purchased a former Caffe Uno site, via Christie & Co, from the troubled restaurant operator Paramount for an undisclosed sum. M&C Report understands that Costa is also close to completing on another Paramount purchase. The first “metropolitan” coffee shops feature a toned down reference to the Costa brand instead draw inspiration from what Whitbread has described as “found materials”. The format comes in two styles – with the site at Crowcross Street in Farringdon placing more focus on the commuter and “to go” offer. A spokeswoman for Whitbread told M&C Report: “The reaction from customers has been fantastic with both of the stores trading ahead of our expectations. “The metropolitan stores are designed with the city customer in mind. We are looking at other sites in London and will look to see if there is the opportunity to take to other city centre locations in the UK and overseas.” When Whitbread reported its interim result for the six months to 2 September 2010, Costa was one of its key performers. The coffee chain saw operating profit by 55.6% in the period and experienced like-for-like sales growth of 8.5%. The update to the Costa estate follows a similar exercise by rivals Starbucks and Coffee Republic. The success of Costa has also led some analysts to suggest it will soon be spun out from the rest of the company – a call which has been rejected by Whitbread’s senior management.