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Coffee giant’s pledge after flagship cafe closes next to Grand Central

Italian-influenced coffee giant Caffè Nero has closed down its second major Birmingham store this year.

Founded almost 25 years ago in 1997, the company is the third biggest coffee chain in the UK behind Costa and Starbucks – or fourth if you put Greggs in at No 2.

But despite its High Street muscle, the company with the distinctive blue livery has shut its flagship Lower Temple Street branch which is ordinarily passed by thousands of commuters and shoppers every day.

READ MORE: City centre’s famous ‘trainspotting’ bookshop closed – weeks before Metro opens

The move – just six months after leaving the Mailbox where it was opposite the public entrance to BBC in the Midlands – means the company is currently down to five cafes from seven previously.

Caffè Nero is retaining sites in Brindleyplace, Corporation Street, Link Street Bullring, Corporation Street and opposite Birmingham Cathedral on Temple Row West and has promised there will be ‘no job losses’.

How it used to look: Caffè Nero’s coffee shop on Lower Temple Street / Stephenson Street in December, 2018

BirminghamLive understands that in both locations the decision to leave was in relation to future plans for the sites.

A Caffè Nero spokesperson said: “Due to the landlord’s intention to redevelop the Lower Temple Street space for other purposes, we have unfortunately had to close our Lower Temple store in Birmingham.

“We were able to offer all our store team roles in alternative stores, so there were no job losses.

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience for any of our customers, who can still use any of the other Caffe Nero stores.

“They are only a short walk away and open as usual.”

A year ago, Caffè Nero reportedly appointed KPMG to try to negotiate rent cuts with landlords.

Last November, Caffè Nero reportedly rejected a takeover bid by the billionaire Blackburn brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the EG Group petrol station founders who have since bought Asda and another coffee chain, Leon.

At that time, Caffè Nero’s portfolio included 650 of its own stores alongside 100 Coffee#1 and 40 Harris & Hoole cafes.

Prior to the pandemic, Caffè Nero was serving 135m customers a year in more than 1,000 cafes in ten countries, including the UK, US, Oman and Sweden.

In the dark: Caffe Nero has been stripped out on Lower Temple Street
In the dark: Caffe Nero has been stripped out on Lower Temple Street

The Lower Temple Street is also opposite a main, heavy footfall entrance and exit to New Street Station / Grand Central shopping centre where curry-loving ‘Two tikkas’ Tom Cruise could be seen filming Mission: Impossible 7 at the end of August.

Formerly a clothes shop, the site includes a spacious basement.

The main ground floor area offers curved windows with a panoramic view over towards Hill Street – although for the best part of a decade the area has been hit by roadworks for the building of Grand Central as well as the West Midlands Metro tram, currently being rebuilt all the way down Corporation Street and into Stephenson Street.

Selfridges' new coat in the Bullring - pictured next to St Martin in the Bull Ring church and overlooking the Bull Ring Open Market on June 26, 2021

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Growing competition

After Caffè Nero had become established on the corner of Lower Temple Street, Costa Coffee arrived on the facing corner of the Guildhall Buildings.

Lower Temple Street has also seen independent 200 Degrees moving in as well as Canadian company Tim Hortons which faces Starbucks on the opposite corner next to New Street.

Yards away on New Street is Pret A Manager with another Canadian company, Second Coffee Cup, just beyond that.

It wasn't always possible to fully watch the world go by from the large Caffè Nero windows on Lower Temple Street - thanks to years of barriers and cones while Grand Central was being built and the West Midlands Metro tram track was laid and then relaid
It wasn’t always possible to fully watch the world go by from the large Caffè Nero windows on Lower Temple Street – thanks to years of barriers and cones while Grand Central was being built and the West Midlands Metro tram track was laid and then relaid

Lower-priced coffees are also available from Greggs and the JD Wetherspoon pub, The Briar Rose.

At the other end of the market, Faculty is a small, premium independent coffee house inside the neighbouring Piccadilly Arcade.

The rise of coffee shops has been a 20th century phenomenon, partly fuelled by the smoking ban helping to change the way live but also by mobile technology making workers more mobile – and in search of drinks, food and wi-fi on the hoof.

Although Coffee Republic was the last significant coffee chain name to pull out of the city in April, 2017, there has been growth in other areas.

Local company Damascena has opened several cafes from Moseley to Temple Row West, the Jewellery Quarter and Harborne and with a fifth one in Edgbaston to follow the arrival of Damascena Souk – a deli, butcher and grocer at 564 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath.

Other independents include Medicine Bar on New Street and Java Roastery on Colmore Row.

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