A SOUTHAMPTON business that was Starbucks’ first UK franchisee has opened its 80th coffee shop in eight years and is on course to reach 100.

Southampton-based 23.5 Degrees plans to have 300 stores by 2027.

Its franchised stores locally include those at Hedge End, Southampton’s Town Quay, Havant and St Leonards near Ringwood, and it reached 80 sites with the opening of its branch in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, last week.

23.5 Degrees managing director Mark Hepburn said: “The last year has been challenging but opening this Starbucks store demonstrates our commitment to our ambitious growth plans.

“We could not have achieved our success without our investors, contractors and Starbucks itself.

“Most importantly, I’d like to thank our partners who have delivered day in, day out to ensure we continue to serve our customers and build the business.”

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23.5 Degrees opened its first Starbucks store in Liphook in February 2013.

It opened seven drive-through sites in 2020, stretching from Canvey Island in Essex to Peterlee in County Durham. It is on course to reach 100 stores by March 2022.

It says it has invested £28million in the economy by opening and buying stores.

The business is looking for freehold and leasehold drive-through sites on main routes, close to major shopping destinations or large industrial estates.

The sites need to be suitable for three standard sized units of 1,500, 1,800 or 2,200sqft, which can either be modular or traditionally built.

The business will also consider retail park and “drive-to” destinations, as well as high street units in prominent high footfall locations with a minimum size of 1,500sqft.

Mr Hepburn added: “We’re able to move fast on great new sites.

“Our use of modular design and build enables our landlords to have our stores trading faster. We’re keeping our foot on the gas and plan to reach 300 stores in the next six years.”

23.5 Degrees now has more than 1,300 staff, 450 of them in Hampshire and Dorset.

It says many current managers and area managers started as baristas and more than half of its managers were promoted from within the business.