Published: 00:01, 06 July 2016
American coffee giant Starbucks has ended rumours that it is setting up shop in Hythe.
The retailer told the Folkestone & Hythe Express that there are “no current plans” for it to open a new branch in the town.
It follows unconfirmed reports that the brand was eyeing up the former Barclays Bank premises in the High Street, which sparked protests and a petition from campaigners.
A press spokesman for Starbucks said: “We’re always looking at new opportunities to reach more customers, however we have no news to announce regarding a store opening in Hythe at this time.”
Protesters believed that an outlet of the chain would be unsuitable in a small town centre full of independent businesses. They also feared it could put independent cafes under threat.
They are also against the brand because of controversy over legal tax avoidance.
In 2012 it was accused of avoiding paying millions in corporate tax in the UK.
Financial results published last December revealed that it paid £8.1m in tax during that year on pre-tax profits of £34.2 milliion.
This was only slightly less than the total the company had paid in the previous 14 years after it moved to the UK in 1998.
Petition organiser Claire Pryke said: “This is a great victory for people power. I am against big businesses running the high street so I am really looking forward to some independent businesses coming to the area.”
Ms Pryke was alerted by the possibility of the chain coming to Hythe on a community Facebook page when she was searching for a second hand fridge.
The petition attracted 2,000 signatures from residents and business owners, some of whom had the paper petition displayed in their shops.
The nearest Starbucks in Shepway is in Folkestone, at the Bouverie Place shopping centre.
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