Fresh coffee a hit with shoppers

Coffee Planet is looking to tap an increasing demand for fresh coffee outlets across the Middle East.

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By  Roger Field Published  January 8, 2006

Coffee Planet, a new company based in the UAE, is looking to tap an increasing demand among consumers who want to drink fresh coffee when they visit supermarkets and other retail outlets in the Middle East. The company, which is owned by a UAE national and a consortium of investors, has been watching the global coffee market closely and is planning to combine high quality coffee with a ‘take-away’ concept aimed at customers visiting retail outlets including supermarkets, c-stores and petrol stations. Coffee Planet, which was established in 2004, recently signed a deal that makes it the exclusive UAE distributor of Acorto, a company that specialises in automated expresso machines, and has already installed self-service coffee machines in 24 locations across the UAE, including Ikea, the University of Wollongong, and various c-stores. “We have been looking at coffee outlets around the world and we have developed a kiosk-cum-self service unit as well as a vending option that is going to be very unique in the market,” Matthew Yorke Smith, director of operations, Coffee Planet, told RNME. The concept behind Coffee Planet follows recent moves by the UK’s biggest supermarket group Tesco, to take a share of the lucrative fresh coffee sector. In 2005, Tesco seized the opportunity to undercut leading coffee shop chain, Starbucks, by installing automated self-serve gourmet coffee machines into 150 of its UK stores. To this end, Coffee Planet is already in talks with some of the UAE’s leading supermarket groups and c-stores, and is also about to sign a deal with one of the major c-store operators, as well as one of the biggest petrol station operators in the UAE. The plan is to install either self-serve coffee machines, or larger coffee kiosks that could also offer some seating, in these outlets. The response from retailers has been positive, according to Yorke Smith. “We’ve had a tremendous response in the Middle East. People are really keen for us to bring them into their outlets. We’re having very little resistance to it, and that’s why I think it’s grown so fast. “We’ve already got 24 machines on the market and within three months we’re going to have 74 machines between self service and vending.” Furthermore, the directors of Coffee Planet are also setting their sights beyond the UAE and hope to make significant gains in other GCC countries, an aim that will be achieved partly by offering Coffee Planet franchises. “We’re planning on taking Coffee Planet throughout the Middle East,” Yorke Smith said. “We started in the UAE and we’re going to develop into Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar and throughout the Middle East. “We’ve already had enquiries from interested parties but up until now we’ve been perfecting it here and we’re now ready to move it out,”Yorke Smith added.

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