The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf announced the appointment of John Dawson as the brand’s new president and chief executive officer. He replaces Mel Elias, who will assume a position on the board of directors. Between now and January 1, they will work together to ensure a smooth transition. Elias has served as president and CEO since 2008 and has been with the company since the brand opened its first franchise stores in Singapore in 1996.
Dawson comes from Dunkin’ Brands, where he held various positions over the past eight years, most recently serving as the global development officer of Dunkin’ Donuts. In that role, he crafted, implemented, and executed an aggressive growth strategy for Dunkin’ Donuts and led the day-to-day operations of franchising, development, and construction. Prior to joining Dunkin’ Brands, Dawson served as vice president of worldwide restaurant development at McDonald’s Corporation, responsible for setting the strategic direction for McDonald’s global development. He earned a B.A. in both Economics and Political Science from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and received a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I take on the role of leading The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in its next phase of growth,” says John Dawson, incoming president and chief executive officer. “I’m impressed with the iconic status of the brand, its ‘People First’ culture and its global footprint. I look forward to returning to my native Southern California and working with the management team to accelerate growth of this business. My primary focus will be on increasing our existing sales and store base, supporting our franchisees, delivering outstanding product quality, and providing excellent customer experiences.”
Founded in 1963 in Southern California, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has become one of the world’s largest independent and privately owned coffee and tea retailers. Known for its commitment to quality coffee and tea, the company has built direct supplier relationships with the best private coffee farms and tea estates around the world, selecting only the top 1 percent of Arabica beans and hand-plucked whole leaf teas. This emphasis on offering its customers premium flavors and tastes has resulted in the company developing a strong recognizable brand that has resonated with its customers in the U.S. as it has expanded across the country and with its international customers alike as it has expanded globally. In September 2013, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf announced that Advent International, CDIB Capital, and Mirae Asset Private Equity had joined to acquire a significant equity position in the company. The three global investors, along with existing shareholders, the Sassoon family, aim to expand the brand’s visibility and accelerate plans for domestic and international expansion.
“I have very much enjoyed my role with this forward-looking brand. In 2013, we have proudly celebrated our landmark 50th anniversary and all that has been accomplished so far. And now it is with great admiration and confidence that I pass on the torch to John to shepherd us into a new age of significance and expansion for the Coffee Bean,” Mel Elias says. “In my new position on the board, I look forward to assisting in the continuing success of the company over the coming years.”
“Since 1998 when we first bought the company, we have collectively worked very hard to build the Coffee Bean into the global and innovative company it is today; one that touches the lives of millions of customers every week,” says Sunny Sassoon, executive chairman of the board. “Now, we welcome John Dawson as our new President and CEO and look forward to his leadership.”