2 March 2011
Last updated at 04:51 ET
Hotel and restaurant group Whitbread has bought the Coffee Nation chain with a view to launching a new self-service coffee brand, Costa Express.
Whitbread, which already owns Costa Coffee, is paying £59.5m for the chain, which operates 900 coffee bars.
The group said it would aim to open 3,000 Costa Express vending machines across the UK over the next five years.
Whitbread also said like-for-like group sales rose by 3.9% in the 11 weeks to 17 February against a year earlier.
Like-for-like sales strip out the impact of sales from stores open less than a year. Total group sales rose 12.4%.
Whitbread said Coffee Nation self-service bars were “fundamentally different” from traditional hot drink vending machines because they used fresh milk and freshly-ground coffee.
“Customers increasingly want great tasting coffee on the go, which makes the self-serve coffee market very attractive,” said Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison.
Costa Coffee has 1,850 outlets around the world, with 1,200 in the UK.
Whitbread also owns the Premier Inn hotel chain and Beefeater restaurants.
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Whitbread acquires Coffee Nation