By Max Clarke

The rapid rise of Coffee Nation has been singled out as a shining example to entrepreneurs across the country by founder Martyn Dawes, after the self-serve chain he started over a decade ago was purchased by Whitbread for just under £60m this week.

Dawes, who founded the firm in 1998, revealed his satisfaction that the original vision he set out for Coffee Nation was safe in Whitbread’s hands, after it announced the company would be extended to 3,000 Costa Express bars across the UK as a result of the £59.5m deal.

Dawes commented:

“It is a great example for British business and entrepreneurship that a start-up company which has created an entirely new niche to better serve the consumer in an innovative way has been sustained over ten years and become part of everyday UK life.”

“I would like to congratulate all at Coffee Nation in continuing the growth of the business and remaining leader in the category we created of self-serve gourmet coffee. It is exciting to see that Costa has big plans to grow the estate.

“It is also worthy of note that the company has gone through two successful exits for shareholders,” he concluded.

Dawes led the company as CEO until the end of 2006 and remained on the board until his exit along with Primary Capital in March 2008, which had funded the growth of the company in 2000.

The Coffee Nation founder is now working on his next venture which he expects to announce later this year.

Dawes was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner in 2005 and the company won the Virgin Atlantic/Sunday Times Innovation Award in 2006 as well as the Technology & Innovation Award at the 2010 Growing Business Awards.