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Caffe Bene strives for stronger foothold in U.S

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Published : 2014-07-17 20:47
Updated : 2014-07-17 20:47

Caffe Bene is striving to gain a firm foothold in the U.S. market, hoping to become a bigger presence there within the next three years, Kim Sun-kwon, the chief executive of the South Korean coffee franchise, said on Thursday.

“Increasing our exposure to U.S. consumers is the foremost task lying ahead of us,” Kim told the press at Caffe Bene’s new roasting plant in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province.

Kim also said Caffe Bene signed a contract with a U.S. production firm three months ago for its U.S. outlets to appear in the new Hollywood film “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” set to be released in 2016, to help buoy Caffe Bene’s brand power.
Caffe Bene CEO Kim Sun-kwon on Thursday speaks during a press conference celebrating the completion of the franchise’s new roasting plant in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province. (Caffe Bene)

“We understand that the awareness of the Caffe Bene brand in the U.S. is much lower than that we enjoy in Asian countries,” the CEO said. “We plan on addressing this, starting with these new marketing strategies.”

Another area Caffe Bene plans to focus on is its interior design.

“Our cafes are known for their natural, wooden interior design. We plan to soon renew the design in our branches in the U.S. and develop more menu items to suit the American taste,” Kim said.

Caffe Bene officials said the company posted about 200 million won to 300 million won ($193,000 to $290,000) in revenues last year in the U.S. Caffe Bene currently operates 16 outlets there, including ones in New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles.

Targeting the U.S. market is part of the company’s business goal this year to open a total of 5,150 cafes worldwide, including at home, by 2017.

The South Korean coffee franchise is known for its rapid expansion, having entered 11 countries ― including Thailand, China and Japan ― in less than six years since it was first established in 2008. Caffe Bene plans to open cafes in seven more countries: Vietnam, Brunei and five nations in the Middle East.

In order to fuel its plans for expansion, Caffe Bene has opened a new roasting plant here. On Thursday, it opened an 18,026-square-meter global plant that boasts an annual production capacity of 7,738 tons of roasted coffee beans, which is about five times Caffe Bene’s current capacity.

Caffe Bene operates 917 outlets in South Korea, and 348 more abroad. In the first quarter of this year, it exported 68 tons of roasted beans to its overseas branches. This accounted for slightly over two-thirds of the quarterly amount of roasted beans produced here. It was also the largest quarterly export figure for a domestic coffee franchise.

By Suk Gee-hyun (monicasuk@heraldcorp.com)

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