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Monday, Dec 4, 2023

Coffee Bean’s New US President Eyes Expansion

Sanjiv Razdan recently joined International Coffee & Tea, which does business as Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, as president of the Americas and India markets. But his enthusiasm for the Mid-Wilshire-based brand stretches back some 20 years.

“I traveled to Singapore and would see Coffee Beans that were starting to emerge there, and I was so impressed,” Razdan said. “At that time, Starbucks hadn’t sort of taken over the planet, and it was lovely to see the shiny new coffee and tea concept, which was very unusual. I grew up drinking tea from my Indian heritage, so that stayed with me.”

After a three-year stint as president of the India market for Yum Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut, Razdan returned to the Los Angeles area in 2014 to serve as chief operations officer at Applebee’s Restaurants in Glendale and then at Sweetgreen Inc. in Mid-City. He also got reacquainted with Coffee Bean.

“I was … sad to see that the brand had perhaps not received the love and attention from previous ownership as much as it could have,” Razdan said. “So when a recruiter called me about the opportunity, I was just very excited about (leading) a brand that’s born in Los Angeles, with real authentic heritage, that’s under-penetrated both in the U.S. and the world.

“I felt like it had a lot of potential. The product quality was phenomenal. When I tried our teas and coffees, they were just really, really good. We have a whole roastery in Camarillo, and when I went there, I was just blown away by how much love and care and science there is behind our roasting and what makes our beans so unique,” he added.

Razdan’s enthusiasm for the brand matches that of the company’s new owners, Jollibee Foods Corp., which operates or franchises more than 5,800 restaurants, including 1,487 fried chicken locations under its namesake brand, 370 Smashburger locations and 1,066 Coffee Bean stores.

The Philippines-based company, in a joint venture with Viet Thai International in Vietnam, acquired Coffee Bean in 2019 for about $300 million.

Jollibee “gave us real access to capital,” Razdan said. “These owners are serious about investing for growth. … One of the reasons that Jollibee acquired Coffee Bean was to be the enabler … to get close to doubling the footprint of Coffee Bean around the world, and (with that) get to be among the top five restaurant companies in the world.”

Razdan’s three-pronged plan for the brand includes increasing its brick-and-mortar footprint to all 50 states via new and existing franchisees, as well as expanding off-premises
consumption by boosting its ecommerce capabilities and grocery store offerings. The pandemic validated the last two efforts, and its effects will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

Other changes under Razdan’s guidance may include the addition of new ovens to finish food as well as menu updates.

Mediha DiMartino
Mediha DiMartino
Mediha DiMartino covers retail, manufacturing and the ports. She can be emailed here.

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