Caribou Coffee agreed to a $260 million deal to license its brand in the consumer packaged goods and foodservice channels to JDE Peet’s, the company announced Thursday. The transaction includes the transfer of Caribou’s roasting operations in Minnesota and its office coffee and foodservice contracts.

Caribou said doing so would enable it to focus on core retail coffeehouses. For JDE, the company gets a platform to expand its premium coffee portfolio in North America. The agreement is expected to close in Q1 2024.

JDE Peet’s under the change will manufacture, market, and sell Caribou’s CPG and foodservice coffee products outside retail locations, while also supplying coffee to Caribou stores. “This transaction validates the success of multiple business platforms our team has built over the last several years, and JDE Peet’s has the right resources, expertise and team to continue its growth trajectory,” John Butcher, president and CEO of Caribou, said in a statement.

“At the same time, the transaction will leave Caribou Coffee in a stronger position to do what we do best: providing guests with delicious products served alongside an award-winning customer experience,” he added. “JDE Peet’s shares our commitment to responsible sourcing and high-quality standards, and we are excited to work with them to expand the reach of our storied brand as we maintain our legacy of consistency and quality.”

Caribou has grown to north of 800 coffeehouses. The chain expanded its franchise program in October 2021, which marked the first time interested candidates could own and operate traditional locations in the U.S. Caribou signed the brand’s first multi-unit deal with Mike Mariola Restaurants in March 2022, an agreement that promised growth in Ohio. The first opened in November 17, 2022, in Wooster. Mariola Restaurants previously stated it would develop 60 locations in the Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati markets.

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As of April 2023, Caribou inked multiple deals that totaled some 300 locations, including agreements with Wake UP 727 to expand in Florida (the first opened in November) and deals with franchisees of sister brand Panera Bread, from Michigan to Missouri. Caribou then inked agreements for 60 and 100 locations with Kevin Ricci and Sam Covelli, respectively—the brand’s largest domestic announcements to date.

Caribou said Thursday the franchise program should double domestic coffeehouses “in the coming years.” Through an expanded agreement with current operators, Caribou also expects similar growth internationally. According to its recent FDD, Caribou touted 484 U.S. outlets at year-end 2022, up 24, year-over-year. That broke down as 339 affiliate-owned stores and 145 franchises. The brand retreated by two units in 2020 before adding 12 in 2021.

Caribou projected 45 company-owned openings in 2023 and 17 franchises.

Broken down, there were 333 company-owned, 140 non-traditional, and 338 franchise locations in 11 countries, as of December 26, 2023. 

Returning to Thursday’s announcement, JAB Holding has owned both brands since 2012. An affiliate of JAB acquired Caribou for $16 per share that December, or $340 million. The company rebranded nearly 90 stores to Peet’s after the deal and closed another 80. JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) and Peet’s Coffee merged in 2019 to create JDE Peet’s.

Caribou today is part of the Panera Brands Platform (JAB purchased Panera in July 2017 for $7.6 billion), which filed to go public in December and should hit the market sometime this year. JAB formed that group, which includes Einstein Bros. Bagels, in August 2021.

“We are delighted with this partnership, which adds Caribou to our existing portfolio of premium brands which we distribute, including Peet’s, Stumptown, Intelligentsia and L’OR, to serve more coffee lovers in North America,” Fabien Simon, CEO of JDE Peet’s, said in a statement. “Caribou is an iconic brand with outstanding facilities and we will complement its strong brand equity with JDE Peet’s’ distribution and innovation capabilities to strengthen our presence and serve more coffee lovers in the largest coffee market in the world. We wholeheartedly welcome a new team of talented employees to the JDE Peet’s family and look forward to integrating their expertise and insights into our operations.  We will work closely with the Caribou team on the ongoing development of Caribou-branded products, as Caribou continues to expand its operations in the United States and abroad.”

Beverage, Fast Casual, Finance, Franchising, Story, Caribou Coffee