[THE INVESTOR] US-based Blue Bottle Coffee is expected to enter the Korean market in March next year, according to news reports on Dec. 5.
The coffee chain recently established Blue Bottle Coffee Korea and named former Nestle Korea Executive Director Hong Jung-pyo as its first CEO. The first local store is most likely to be located in Samcheong-dong, northern Seoul.
Blue Bottle Coffee was founded by James Freeman, a former clarinet player, in 2002 in Oakland, California. The company began to gain popularity with its unique blend of slow hand drip coffee and the signature blue cups. It was acquired by Nestle for US$425 million in September.
The company operates 40 stores in the US and seven in Japan. Korea will be its third overseas destination. With an exponential increase of coffee enthusiasts and demand for direct purchase of coffee beans surging in Korea, domestic companies such as SPC Group, Hyundai Department Store and Paradise Group among others have pursued a partnership with Blue Bottle Coffee. However, Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Brian Meehan has firmly stated the company never had a franchise model and plans to directly manage its stores in order to sustain its corporate identity.
The Korean CEO was previously sales executive at Nestle Korea and has served diverse positions in the logistics supply and marketing divisions. A number of Nestle staff are also expected to relocate to Blue Bottle Coffee Korea.
By Alex Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)