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Tue 17 Feb 2009 04:00 AM

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Regional ambitions for Coffee Planet

Coffee Planet business development manager Robert Jones explains to Hotelier Middle East that the company has bean there, done that when it comes to offering hotels tasty beverage options for their guests.

Coffee Planet business development manager Robert Jones explains to Hotelier Middle East that the company has bean there, done that when it comes to offering hotels tasty beverage options for their guests.

While a green-clad ubiquitous outlet chain may be a one-stop coffee shop for many consumers, Dubai-based Coffee Planet is working hard to ensure that it receives the same brand recognition from hoteliers across the Middle East.

According to business development director Robert Jones the company not only provides the coffee itself, but also a wide range of related equipment and products for hotels.

This year will be the year for expansion of Coffee Planet throughout the GCC.

"We have a solutions division within Coffee Planet, which caters specifically to our food service clients including hotels, retailers and catering companies," he explained.

"As part of the service we provide - on top of the coffee itself - we are able to offer a full range of coffee equipment as we exclusively represent a number of leading coffee equipment manufacturers including Concordia Coffee Systems (USA), Wilbur Curtis (USA) and HLF (Italy) as well as others on a non-exclusive basis."

When Coffee Planet supplies hotels with coffee and equipment it also provides 24-hour service and maintenance in case any clients have an issue with equipment.

"If we are not able to rectify any issue on the first call then we will replace the equipment free of charge," Jones continued.

"We have developed a reputation in the market for providing excellent levels of service to our clients.

"I think our products are popular because our key priority when it comes to our food service customers is quality; the equipment, the service levels and of course the 100% pure specialty Grade-1 Arabica coffee."

Jones said Coffee Planet was able to tailor its coffee product to customer demands because it has a roastery based in Dubai and an experienced roastmaster overseeing the production process.

"We are able to offer unique blends or specific taste profiles that [hoteliers] may wish to achieve very easily and all to high Coffee Planet standards," he explained.

While the company is still refining new products available to the hotel market - Jones said the products would "be well accepted in the industry as they provide further levels of quality and convenience for [hoteliers] and their customers" - one of the immediate focuses for 2009 is expanding the geographical reach of the brand across the GCC.

"We currently supply to the UAE through our own in-house operations and we also supply to Oman through our franchisee Crown Muscat International who we partnered with late last year," Jones said.

"This year will be the year for expansion of Coffee Planet throughout the GCC. We have had significant interest in our business over the past year from all parts of the GCC and beyond, but we haven't been ready to expand much further than Oman as we wanted to ensure our operational structure was ready and robust enough for expansion - we believe now that it is."

Jones is confident the Coffe Planet brand will be successful in other regional markets.

"We have a number of USPs over our competition in many different areas, as we have a full complement of services and offerings under the brand name of Coffee Planet - whether it is our Coffee Planet branded retail outlets throughout the UAE, the supply of equipment and coffee to hotels, retailers and catering companies as well as offices, the design and build of coffee shops for our clients as well as a full range of roasting services for our clients," he said.

"As we have our own roastery here in Dubai, we are able to fully manage our supply chain reducing any stock-outs and ensure that our customers are drinking the freshest coffee available to them on the market.

"The optimum time to consume coffee is within four weeks of roasting in order to enjoy the full taste qualities of Arabica Coffee, so one of our key objectives for 2009 is to ensure that every Coffee Planet coffee in our customers' hands is made from beans that have been roasted within the prior four weeks.

Many of our competition don't have local roasting facilities and so import their coffee beans from overseas, which by the time it has sat in ports, gone through various climatic changes and sat on vessels is many months old - not exactly fresh."The roastery also provide hoteliers with the ability to develop products to fit individual tastes.

"Having our own roastery here also means we are able to develop specific blends for our customers' requirements, which has been very popular especially in the hotel market as it brings another dynamic of quality and allows our hotel customers to differentiate themselves. This service also includes packaging designed to their requirements by our in-house design team," Jones explained.

The company was also looking at offering something fresh and individualised through its retail outlets, which are soon to be deployed.

"We have realised that multiple brands of coffee outlets here in the UAE are essentially the same model, reworked in different colours," Jones said.

"Our mission is to turn it on its head and offer the customer a brand new experience in the retail coffee environment.

"We have paid close attention to what the customer is demanding and how we will be able to lead in this market as opposed to follow - innovate, don't imitate.

"Being a fairly young company as well as the brand owners also allows us the flexibility not often given to our retail competitors as they are most often operating imported franchised brands. We are daring to be different in order to provide high-quality coffee."

And Jones is confident that demand will continue to drive growth for Coffee Planet.

"Demand is rising," he said.

"We have seen phenomenal growth since we started the business just over three years ago and we currently serve more than 50,000 cups of coffee a week just through our 130 retail outlets alone. This has been consistently rising over the past three years and is set to rise much further when we roll out our Coffee Planet Retail outlets this year in the UAE and Oman.

"We have been working hard over the past two years in conjunction with Keane Brands developing our funky new retail concepts, which we will be rolling out this year with our current franchise partners and we are looking to expand further throughout the GCC and beyond through the same mode.

"These concepts will be on display at this year's Gulfood Show on the Coffee Planet stand."

In addition to developing the company's retail reach, hoteliers were also now demanding more, Jones continued.

"As a result of [Coffee Planet's] quality of service and attention to detail, we have experienced a demand from our clients to expand our service throughout their properties, developing unique blends, creating coffee menus as well as helping them with training staff to maintain the quality of the products that they serve to their consumers," he said.

"We will be introducing some new innovative products this year which are currently in the final stages of development."

Company InformationName: Coffee Planet LLC

Created :2006

Based: Al Quoz and Dubai Investment Park, Dubai

Contact:

Tel: 800- COFFEE (800-263333)

Web: www.mycoffeeplanet.com

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