THE founder of the national coffee shop chain Mangobean claims it was ‘sold a promise’ when defending a decision to close its Darlington store.

Shane Saunders, who created the brand to take on Costa Coffee and Starbucks several years ago, blamed the closure on delays to the completion of the adjacent Feethams House office complex.

Mangobean, which rented a ground floor retail unit within the DL1 leisure complex on Feethams in the town centre, officially announced its closure on Tuesday.

The Northern Echo: Mangobean opened to the homeless every Christmas DayMangobean opened to the homeless every Christmas Day

Over the years the coffee shop had become well-known for offering the homeless a free meal and drink each Christmas Day since opening in 2016.

Mr Saunders told The Northern Echo that Mangobean had been forced to close the store after it failed to achieve the footfall it needed in that part of the town.

He said: “Darlington was one of our first-generation coffee shops for Mangobean – we were promised by the landlord that offices across the road would be completed.

The Northern Echo:

“We invested heavily at the beginning, Mangobean had put more than £2,000 into the store every month, but there was no footfall.”

Mr Saunders, who remained confident the Mangobean brand was popular across its network of stores, said the firm “tried everything” it could in the months leading to its closure but blamed delays in the opening of the office block opposite on its lack of trade.

He said: “Nobody was coming in, in the last six months there was nothing we could do.

“We did everything we could but at that point, there was no more investment.

“We bought into the landlord’s vision, it was not what it was promised – if the offices had opened it would have generated so much income.”

The Northern Echo:

The proposed five-storey Feethams House development, managed by Darlington Borough Council, was due to open to the first of its tenants in Autumn last year.

Boasting a ‘strategic business’ and a ‘prime’ town centre location, the £8.5m development is being funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, European Regional Development Fund and the council itself.

In response to Mr Saunder's claims, Ian Williams, Darlington Borough Council’s Director of Economic Growth, said: “It’s always sad when a private business fails, and we wish things had worked out differently for Mangobean.

"However, businesses can fail for lots of reasons – the timing of a nearby development should not affect whether a business stands or falls.”

Mangobean's Hartlepool coffee shop remains unaffected by the decision.

  • The Northern Echo has contacted DL1