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HMSHost Drops Starbucks Exclusivity

HMSHost is ending its exclusivity agreement with Starbucks and will begin to operate new coffee concepts in airports around the country, the company says.

Spokesperson Shayna Iglesias says HMSHost will continue to partner with Starbucks in airports, but will no longer be limited to offering just the iconic brand. HMSHost first began offering Starbucks in 1991 and currently operates more than 400 Starbucks airport locations.

“We have a variety of reasons for our decision, including, most importantly, consumer and airport demand,” Iglesias says. “We know that consumers are interested in gourmet premium coffee. HMSHost has had the opportunity to grow all the other food and beverage categories…but we’ve been limited in our ability to grow the coffee category because of our relationship with Starbucks.

“This decision will open up new opportunities and new doors for HMSHost to be able to work with emerging craft coffee brands, other popular national brands, and also have the ability to bring in more regional and local favorites,” Iglesias adds.

She also notes that these days, “nearly all RFPs issued by airports carve out spaces for local coffee concepts or they ask for a variety of coffee brands.”

Coffee has long been in high demand in airports, and its popularity is only strengthening. HMSHost is taking a more expansive approach in order to “unleash the growth potential in the category,” the company said.

HMSHost said it has its sights set on working with emerging coffee brands to bring an expansive variety and new, creative store formats to airports. That could include venues that are coffee shops during the day but that transition to bars in the evening, or concepts that blend seamlessly with retail and newsstand experiences, or other approaches. HMSHost also plans to leverage technologies to facilitate fast ordering and production.

“It’s an exciting time for HMSHost, and we have the opportunity to continue our expansion of local food flavors,” says HMSHost president and CEO Steve Johnson. “We have had great success in bringing regional chefs and popular city dining favorites to airports and we’re ready to do the same with the coffee category. While we have, and will continue, a long partnership with Starbucks, we’re continuing to innovate in this space and focus on serving consumer and airport partner needs.”