Scoffs Group, the Costa Coffee franchise operator, currently has 10 sites in under negotiation which it expects to open in 2018, MCA has learnt.

Kris Dungey, chief operating officer, told MCA the sites were traditional High Street coffee shops, and would be split roughly 50/50 between the group’s franchise territories of Essex and Suffolk/Norfolk.

Meanwhile, he said Scoffs would explore further opportunities with Cr@te, a shipping container scheme in Loughton by Grangewood, which is seeking to expand nationally.

Dungey said Costa Coffee’s board had been “blown away” by the appearance of a Costa branded outlet in a shipping container, and said it had inspired the Whitbread-owned business to consider innovations for its own corporate stores.

Dungey, formerly of Kout and SA Brain, said: ”We have identified 10 new store locations that are currently in negotiation to open in 2018.

”We are have got a very successful business. Whether we operate 40 or 80 – we don’t have a target. We want to grow at a sustainable rate. The infrastructure we have needs to be able to cope with expansion. We are open to looking at acquisitions in the future as well.

Dungey, who joined the Antony Tagliamonti-led group last year, said unconventional stores such as the Cr@te Laughton were becoming much more accepted.

He added: “For us it is an exciting opportunity to operate a Costa franchise in a shipping continer and we will continue to discuss potential future opportunities to partner with Crate UK in new locations. The Costa board have been blown away by the innovation

”If you look at Boxpark as an example, these kind of container utilisations have become much more accepted. People are comfortable opening a business from a container.”