Whitbread is trialling its Costa Fresco model outside London for the first time and begun rolling elements of its food offer into other London stores.

Speaking after yesterday’s Q1 results announcement, Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain revealed that Milton Keynes would be the first location for the first Costa Fresco outside the capital and said she would not rule out further regional stores.

She said the trial remained on going in London with a number of hot food offers trialled and that the “best of the Fresco offers” were not being implemented in 20-30 London stores.

She also said that the fast format Pronto had now been “packaged up” so it could roll out across the country, with 10 openings expected this year

The company is also set to open its first artisan coffee store in London’s Shelton Street next week.

Brittain said the company remained on target to add 230 to 250 new Costa stores worldwide in the full year and said it had increased its aspirations for Costa Express after installing a record 450 net new machines this quarter, meaning it now expects to add 1,250 over the full year.

On Costa Fresco she said: “It has been iterated a number of times and with different offers so it has certainly not been static, it’s been a real test. That includes latterly putting hot food offers such as lasagnes and pastas in. There have been ongoing trials and all pretty successful with food capture rates up in those stores.

“We are now testing it outside London to make sure we haven’t got a London phenomenon. We have a store in Milton Keynes that will open. That’s not necessarily a prelude to further Fresco openings out of London although I wouldn’t rule them out.

“The key to success is driving through the best that Fresco offers into the wider estate. The best of those offers are being rolled into 20-30 London stores. That’s happening now in fact the food is in most and we’ve seen some good progress.”

On Pronto, she said: “It has been very successful in travel and very busy locations and that format is now packaged up so our retail development team can open Prontos throughout the country. I would expect about 10 of those in the current year.”

Asked if she would consider acquiring a speciality coffee company, Brittain said: “I think it would be counterproductive for us – first because we would dwarf it and because Costa coffee credentials are at the heart of its business.”

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