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Chicago North Side

Failing Brand: Caribou Coffee

In the last two weeks, Joh. A. Benckiser, the Viennese owner/operator of Caribou and Peet’s Coffee chains announced closures of 80 Midwestern Caribou locations and an additional 88 Midwestern conversions from Caribou to Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Chicago houses 16 of the Caribou locations, two of which will be permanently closed. Fourteen Chicago stores will be converted into Peet’s Coffee & Tea within the next 12-18 months, reports say.

There has been a fair amount of reporting done on the announcements, mainly coming from the Chicago Tribune. Interviews with Joh. A. Benckiser chairman Bart Becht reveal that the company claims the closures are due to poor sales in the region. Many Chicago Caribou fans oppose these claims, and are distraught by the closure.

The food blog Eater (Chicago) reported on the closures and made the accurate assumption that the flood of newly opened independent, boutique-style coffee shops had something to do with  Caribou’s poor sales and brand recognition in Chicago specifically.

This point strikes a chord with me, and will be the area of focus. There has already been statements released from Caribou and Joh. A. Benckiser relaying that poor sales and brand recognition are to blame for the closures.

There are two Lincoln Park locations, two Boystown locations, and two Lakeview locations that will be either permanently closed or converted.The insight I’ll look for in my reporting will stem from interviews of store employees, managers, and customers on their thoughts as to why Caribou will be leaving the city. Maybe they have followed the news from places like the Tribune and the Eater, or maybe they have their own assumptions. All will allow for a more full scope of the story.

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About goharder312

Chicago Native. Sport Enthusiast. DePaul University Graduate Student. Freelance Writer and Photographer. *Control Your Own Destiny*

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