The secret coffee shop chain

Empty spaces, closing down sales and clone town high streets. Sound familiar? Clone towns and empty high street shop fronts aren’t new topics for discussion, but what about chain stores disguised to look like independently run shops?

This is exactly what Harris + Hoole, the new chain of high street coffee shops is doing. The company which is partially owned by Tesco plans to convert some of the now empty Clinton Cards shops into ‘indie’ like coffee houses.

Harris and Hoole may be 49% owned by Tesco but the company is also run by three siblings from London who aim to provide ‘good coffee’ made from fresh coffee beans served by ‘happy people’. The name of the chain comes from the book ‘The Diary of Samuel Pepys’. The characters Harris and Hoole’ are both keen coffee drinkers. It’s a nice idea for a name.

On the menu, you’ll find a variety of coffee drinks from the flat white to more unusual options and all the coffee beans used have been recently harvested – so the coffee blends change depending on the season. Also, according to the website, all coffee beans are sourced directly by Union Hand Roasted which means farmers get a better deal.

It sounds good; however, many local residents are angry about the connection with Tesco and feel tricked into thinking they were buying from an independently run coffee shop. It probably seemed like a brave move for an independent coffee house to open up on the same street as a Costa, Starbucks or Café Rouge after all.

The next question to ask is, could this be the future of our high streets? Will more corporations start to team up with entrepreneurs to open up seemingly independent looking shops in the empty spaces once inhabited by chains like Clintons or Woolworths? Is this a positive move or one to be avoided? What are your thoughts?