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Coffee Bean in Cambodia

THE first Cambodian franchise of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will be opened by South Korean investors later this year, according to company officials.

The inaugural location of the United States-based chain in the Kingdom would occupy 110 square metres on the ground floor of Phnom Penh Tower on Monivong Boulevard, Coffee Bean Cambodia Operations Manager Brice Smith said.

“This is the flagship store, so we want to make a big impression,” he said yesterday, adding the Phnom Penh Tower was chosen as a location for that reason.

“It’s going to be on par with what you see in the States,” he said.

Plans call for the first outlet to open September 1, though construction delays could mean it launches in October. The firm plans some 10 outlets within five years, in Phnom Penh as well as branching out to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

In addition to its US presence, Coffee Bean also operates stores in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, including a number of ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the company’s website. It claims over 750 outlets worldwide.

Smith said one successful strategy used to gain a foothold in Vietnam was to create an iced coffee tailored to local tastes.

He said Coffee Bean plans to pursue a similar initiative in Cambodia, in addition to adding food items that domestic consumers will prefer.

“We’re doing a lot of market research,” he said, adding that appealing to locals is important because the business can’t depend on tourists alone.

The company is now searching for store managers, Smith said. Those who are chosen will be sent to Malaysia for training.

Coffee Bean was due to launch in Cambodia last year, though with a different franchisee.

That investor later backed out, leaving an opening for the current ownership, he said.

Coffee Bean Cambodia Chairman and CEO Damon Lee could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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