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Caribou Coffee to scale drive-thru stores with new US franchise model

Panera Brands-led coffee chain seeks multi-unit experienced franchisees to grow its Caribou Cabin drive-thru and convenience format

Caribou Coffee operates more than 314 company owned and 135 licensed US locations | Photo credit: Caribou Coffee



Caribou Coffee has launched a domestic franchise programme in the US, a model previously only deployed in the coffee chain’s international markets. 

In a press release, the JAB Holdings-controlled company said it was seeking partners with 'extensive franchising and food and beverage experience, ideally with a background in multi-unit franchise ownership'. 

The planned store expansion will focus on Midwestern states, including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, as well as the Western state of Colorado, and will see Caribou scaling its Caribou Cabins format, a drive-thru and convenience-led concept with little or no in-store seating launched in 2019. 

"Recognising Caribou Cabins' immense expansion potential, we've optimised this business model through our corporate-owned locations and are focused on replicating the success we've experienced in new markets in partnership with franchise owners," said John Butcher, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee.  

“Leveraging our unit growth and omnichannel performance, we've designed scalable processes and support services to enable franchisees' success," added Butcher.
 
Caribou’s expansion drive comes shortly after the company was assimilated into the newly-formed Panera Brands group, which also comprises the Panera Bread and Einstein Bros Bagels brands.

Panera Brands, which is led by Panera Bread CEO, Niren Chaudhary, positions itself as the world's largest fast casual restaurant companies, with nearly 4,000 locations and over 110,000 employees across 10 countries. 

The group also has a focus on digital convenience, with around 45% of sales of sales coming from e-commerce.

Drive-thru has become an increasingly opportune revenue stream for US coffee shops, with World Coffee Portal data showing the proportion of consumers  favouring drive-thru over entering a coffee shop increasing from 48% in 2019 to 63% in 2020. 

Founded in 1992, Caribou Coffee operates 713 stores around the world, including more than 314 company owned and 135 licensed US locations and 269 franchised stores across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 

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