COFFE-maker Lavazza has dramatically scaled back its expansion plans in the UK amid problems with its business partner.
Lavazza, Italy's biggest coffee company and sponsors of Wimbledon, planned to open up to 400 Lavazza Espression coffee shops in the UK across the next decade, with Surrey-based Catalyst Retail handling the roll-out. But the total has now been revised to just 50 stores in five years.
Catalyst Retail's details have been removed from the Lavazza Espression website in an escalation of difficulties between the partners. Last month, it was reported many franchisees signed up by Catalyst Retail wanted their £24,000 deposit back, claiming a lack of support and communication from the company.
At the time Lavazza said it was "treating very seriously the difficulties local franchisees are facing with Catalyst Retail Limited's management" and said it would take any measure appropriate to "preserve the image and reputation of Lavazza".
Speaking at Wimbledon this week, vice-president Guiseppe Lavazza distanced the company from the coffee shop project and said: "It's not our core business. It's very difficult, it's much more real estate."
Catalyst Retail could not be reached for comment.