Starbucks begins mobile ordering rollout in Beijing and Shanghai

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“Starbucks said it has begun rolling out its Starbucks Now mobile ordering platform to 300 select stores in Beijing and Shanghai and will expand the service throughout China over the next year.

Starbucks Now, available for Starbucks Rewards members through the company’s mobile app in China, allows customers to order their food and beverages ahead of time and pick them up in store.

“Starbucks Now represents a significant opportunity for Starbucks China to drive new, innovative customer experiences,” Belinda Wong, chief executive officer of Starbucks China said in a company release. “This builds on the latest of several digital initiatives in China, including Starbucks Delivers and locally relevant gifting and e-commerce experiences.”

Customers can use Starbucks Now to find a local store based on the mobile app’s GPS location, order food and customized beverages and make payment, with the order ready to pick up when they arrive at the location.”

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Bento Boxes Are Trending In Fast Casual

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We’ve rounded up several examples of the emerging bento box trend in fast-casual restaurants, from a bento-only delivery concept to an already-emerging chain undergoing a major expansion.

“The bentos are appealing because you’re not eating a huge plate of pad Thai, and then falling asleep at your desk the next moment,” Kelley said. “I lived in Japan for over a year and was always taken by the bento delivery system there … they deliver bento boxes and then pick them up in the afternoon. We are doing the same thing in Colorado, and we are essentially zero-waste.”

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Tim Hortons Expands to China

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“Tim Hortons has arrived in China, joining the high-stakes battle to sell coffee in a massive country that mostly drinks tea.

The Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain, run by Burger King-owner Restaurant Brands International Inc., plans to focus on “everyday value” as it muscles up against the ambitious plans of local and foreign players such as Starbucks Corp. Its also debuting at a tricky time as a diplomatic row brews between China and Canada (…).

GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES

Besides joining a crowded field that includes Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., Coca-Cola Co.’s newly acquired Costa Coffee and local startup Luckin Coffee, Tim Hortons faces a slowing Chinese economy and complicated geopolitical situation.

Its origins as a beloved Canadian brand may run into some nationalistic consumers, given the political tensions underway currently.

Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has been held in Canada at U.S.’ request since last December. The Canadian government said in January that 13 citizens have been detained in China since Wanzhou’s arrest.

Many Chinese consumers, however, seem unfazed. Canada Goose Holdings Inc., which opened its flagship store in Beijing in December amid calls for boycott of Canadian goods, downplayed the backlash fears earlier this month after it saw shoppers line up outside its store.

Tim Hortons has struggled to build a following outside its home country. The chain, named for a Canadian hockey star, is opening its first Chinese shop on Tuesday in People’s Square, in Huangpu, Shanghai and is banking on a growing middle class keen to try Western inventions like its honey cruller donuts.

“Tim Hortons will need to offer not just something unique that Chinese consumers can’t find at other chains, but also spend heavily on marketing to build awareness of the brand,” said Jason Yu, Shanghai-based general manager of Kantar Worldpanel in Greater China.”

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The Rise, Decline and Section 363 Sale of the New York Coffee Chain Fika

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“Though the word “fika” famously refers to the Swedish cultural practice of slowing down to relax with those around you over coffee or tea and a small bite, the New York City coffee chain Fika has been operating at a breakneck pace in recent years.

By 2016, ten years after opening Fika with a single Manhattan location, founder Lars Akerlund had led the boutique coffee chain to 17 locations while signaling the company’s intentions to expand its physical footprint into more U.S. cities and countries overseas. Two years after that, by Sept. 2018, Fika had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Today, the company is down to six New York locations, and it has recently been acquired through an auction process under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, section 363, according to an announcement made by Cozen O’Connor, a law firm involved with the acquisition process.

“The expansion required significant start-up costs for each of the locations before they could become profitable,” the firm said, noting the rapid addition of 12 Fika cafes that began in 2013. “FIKA was subsequently unable to secure additional investors to cover the expansion costs and its operations alone could not absorb the increased start-up expenses. The legacy costs from the aggressive expansion forced FIKA, therefore, to close a number of locations and return to a streamlined, conservative business model centered on fewer stores.”

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U.S. FDA Says It Will Try to Resume Some Food Inspections

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“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be restarting high-risk food inspections as early as Tuesday — a process many Americans may not have even known was halted.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced via Twitter the plan to resume high-risk probes on Monday afternoon, adding that “we started sampling high-risk imported produce in the northeast region today. We’ll expand our footprint as the week progresses. Our teams are working.”

The work is “being done by an inspectorate that’s largely going unpaid,” during the government shutdown, he added.”

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UNFI completes SUPERVALU acquisition

Image result for unfi“United Natural Foods Inc. closed its $2.9 billion purchase of Supervalu Inc. on Monday, with Supervalu shares disappearing from the New York Stock Exchange as the first sign of the completed takeover.

In coming months, United Natural aims to sell Supervalu’s grocery store chains, including Cub Foods, and narrow its business to wholesale distribution similar to its own.

United Natural Foods (UNFI), based in Providence, R.I., is the nation’s largest distributor of organic and natural foods. With Supervalu, the company will more than double its size and expand its reach into traditional foods and grocery stores.

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Manhattan Food and Bar Leasing Up Double Digits

Across the city, landlords want a seat at the table.  More specifically, they want the seats, and they want the tables inside their buildings.  Fast-casual restaurants, coffee shops, and juice bars are expanding across Manhattan, driven in part by a large millennial workforce and dense, wealthy demographic.

Also, though, as consumers behaviors have changed, opportunity has opened up for foodservice operators.  More and more retail and apparel is being purchased online, which has caused these companies to trim store sizes.  Now, with new inventory available, restaurants are building new locations even faster.  In 2015, the fast-casual segment grew to $44 billion nationwide–an 11.5% increase from 2014, according to Technomic.

Similarly, Manhattan lease transactions in the food and bar category increased 22% in 2015 over 2014, Cushman & Wakefield reports.  Meanwhile, drugstore leases were down 64% and apparel and accessories retails were down 22%.

Where banks and retailers once occupied large-footprint spaces, some landlords are building out food halls or dividing spaces into smaller units.  “You’re getting more [rent] than what a single tenant would pay,” said Brett Herschenfeld, SL Green Managing Director.

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