F&B highlights

Starbucks moves to multi-operator model

The end of its exclusive US airport agreement with F&B operator HMSHost represents an “opportunity to innovate and try different things”, Starbucks says.

While HMSHost remains a partner, Starbucks has been quick to announce tie-ups with three other companies: OTG, Paradies Lagardère and Areas USA.

Starbucks believes the new model will give it “a range of options to better serve our customers”. Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street programme, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson commented: “The whole dynamic of airports has changed dramatically over the last five to seven years. We’re working on some ideas, even with pop-up stores in airports that could move depending on time of day and where gate arrivals and gate departures are taking place.”

For its part, HMSHost says it is looking to strike new coffee brand partnerships and increase its portfolio as part of a strategic move underpinned “by increased consumer interest in local, sustainable and customised options in the popular coffee category”.

“We have had great success in bringing regional chefs and popular city dining favourites to airports and we’re ready to do the same with the coffee category,” says HMSHost President & CEO Steve Johnson.

Starbucks says it wants to “bring new innovations to the market and elevate the overall Starbucks experience for partners and customers”

“Imagine coffee shops during the day that are designed to transition to lively bars in the evening with great music entertainment; concepts that blend seamlessly with retail and newsstand experiences for the utmost in traveller convenience; innovative mobile carts that move from gate-to-gate; and coffee shops built for speed through highly efficient designs that eliminate lines, streamline menus and use the latest technologies to facilitate fast ordering and production.”

OTG promises a dynamic new approach for Starbucks in the airport environment. “Our mission is simple – deliver our guests what they want in the most efficient, frictionless way possible,” explains OTG CEO Rick Blatstein. “This collaboration will allow us to introduce a fully re-imagined Starbucks customer experience, ensuring guests access to their preferred cup anywhere in the airport.”

Paradies Lagardère President and CEO Gregg Paradies says his company’s tie-up with Starbucks represents a “historical moment in our industry”, while Areas USA CEO Carlos Bernal notes that the partnership between Areas and Starbucks supports an already successful international partnership between the two players and aligns with its US growth strategy.

Whatever happens next, this collection of moves represent a significant shift in the coffee category landscape at US airports.

The exclusivity agreement between Starbucks and HMSHost at US airports had run since 1991

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March 2020

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