Kraft backs Cadbury high street cafes plan

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The Independent Online

Cadbury-branded cafes are to open on Britain's high streets under plans confirmed today by the Dairy Milk and Wispa maker.

The group has secured backing from new owner Kraft for a chain of Cadbury outlets offering afternoon tea and an on-site chocolatier service making large versions of popular bars such as Curly Wurlys and Flakes.

As many as 60 outlets could be opened over the next three to five years under the proposals.

US parent Kraft, which bought Cadbury in a controversial £11.5 billion takeover in February, has thrown its weight behind the idea, endorsing a 20-year licence deal with a group of retail entrepreneurs to lead the venture.

Cadbury had been in discussions with the team - including David Morris, the former director of food and restaurants at Harrods - and signed the licence agreement in January, before Kraft completed its acquisition.

The US firm has now given the plans the green light, but is not providing financial backing.

Cadbury said it was an "exciting concept that builds on the success of the Cadbury brand", although a spokesman stressed it was "very early days" for the venture.

It is thought the cafes could be called Cadbury Cocoa Houses - the same name that was given to a previous Cadbury-branded cafe, which was operated in Bath primarily as a marketing tool until it shut in 2007.

The management team running the new operation are said to have already started negotiations with landlords with a view to possibly launching in London before the end of the year.

Mr Morris is expected to become chief executive of the venture, with retail entrepreneur Marilyn Newman as chairman.

The launch comes at a robust time for the coffee shop sector, which has shown remarkable resilience throughout the recession.

While many high street rivals have fallen by the wayside, the consumer spending woes spared many coffee shop retailers and they have even been expanding throughout the recession.

Recent figures showed that the six biggest players increased shop numbers by 47% in the year to September 2009.