Dunkin' Donuts Hitches Rides With Hess, Sara Lee

An old New England joke that giving directions always involves a turn at a Dunkin' Donuts may gain national cred as the company continues its aggressive expansion via new agreements with Hess Corp. and Sara Lee.

A Dunkin' Donuts news release on Tuesday announcing the pacts boasts that they will "make it even more convenient for America to enjoy select Dunkin' Donuts menu items throughout the entire day."

The agreement with Hess calls for the installation of self-service coffee, hot chocolate and donut stations within Hess' gas-convenience locations. According to Hess Corp.'s Web site, there are 1,350 retail marketing facilities serving customers in 14 states on the Eastern seaboard, from New Hampshire to Florida. The stations will roll out starting next month, mostly outside of Dunkin' Donuts' New England base.

The agreement with Sara Lee Foodservice will put self-service stations in office building break rooms, cafeterias and other venues with large food-service operations. The company did not identify locations.



Laura Ries, president of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based brand consultancy, calls the moves "an easy way to get greater distribution without opening more stores." But she cautioned the brand against following in the footsteps of its No. 1 rival. "They should be the opposite of Starbucks," she tells Marketing Daily, "by being coffee for the rest of us.

"If they're going to be coffee for the rest of us, then gas stations are a good place to be," she continues. "Dunkin' Donuts needs to expand. They should have done this a long time ago. But [compared to Starbucks], they have to be the quicker place."

Michelle King, a Dunkin' Donuts spokesperson, said the company was not ready to reveal marketing plans that will support the efforts.

In a statement, Robert Rodriguez, Dunkin' Donuts brand president, said the company hopes to strengthen the brand "by reaching more customers in more places more often."

The Canton, Mass.-based franchised restaurant has partnerships with such big brand names as JetBlue, Pepsi's SoBe and Procter & Gamble.

Within the past year, the company has launched plans or entered into agreements for significant expansion in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin and Houston, among others. Dunkin' Donuts' first Las Vegas store set a company opening week sales record, making Las Vegas the site of the most successful new store opening in Dunkin' Donuts' 57-year history.

There are more than 7,200 franchised Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in 31 countries.

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