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Caribou and JCPenney Backing Out of Partnership

A partnership that would have put Caribou Coffee retail stores inside new JCPenney department stores has apparently fizzled. Word first got out six months ago that the companies were planning to work together to install Caribou coffee shops inside JCPenney’s revamped store model as a way to lure more customers and provide a more welcoming atmosphere.

Caribou coffee not joining JCPenneyBetween then and now, JCPenney has reported significant sales declines and Caribou Coffee was acquired by the German investment firm, and Peet’s owner, Joh. A. Benckiser Group (JAB) for approximately $340 million.

In an email sent friday to Bloomberg reporters, Caribou CEO Mike Tattersfield said the partnership was a no go, although he did not provide specifics. Here’s more from the Bloomberg report:

The Minneapolis-based coffee seller won’t be opening stores in J.C. Penney locations and “does not have plans to move forward with a partnership at this time,” Caribou Chief Executive Officer Mike Tattersfield said in an e-mailed statement today. Johnson discussed the cafes during a September tour of a prototype store for analysts and investors. Tattersfield declined to say why Caribou was pulling out.

The loss of the cafes comes as Johnson struggles to transform most of J.C. Penney’s stores into collections of boutiques peppered with eateries, or a kind of mall within a mall. The department store chain reported an annual sales decline of 25 percent to $13 billion about two weeks ago. In September it said Caribou cafes would provide a place for customers to relax and help the coffee company expand.

While JCPenney’s leadership remains tight-lipped regarding the partnership dissolution, Business Insider quoted a source identified only as a “JCPenney insider” who suggested that the company is in search of a food and beverage partner that may have more to offer:

Back in February, JCPenney announced internally that Caribou Coffee would not be offered in stores, and that it was searching for a vendor that would “offer more options in food and beverage,” according to the insider.

“No word yet on who will replace them,” he added.

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