Amidst a broader retail sector retrenchment, Dunkin’ Donuts plans to open up to 10 franchised stores in metro Atlanta this year.

Growth markets targeted include Athens, Riverdale, Douglasville, Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Ellijay, Dawsonville, Cumming and Gainesville and Cleveland, Dunkin’ Donuts told Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Atlanta’s demographics are good for Dunkin’s consumer base, said Grant Benson, vice president of franchise sales at Dunkin’ Brands Inc. said Friday. The city’s sprawl and traffic patterns are also suited for Dunkin’.

With it’s push for java supremacy, Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ could also be capitalizing on the retreat of the king of coffee — Starbucks. The coffee chain plans to ax 6,700 jobs and shutter 300 stores.

Launching a capital-intensive store expansion in the maw of a recession that has mauled consumer spending and the credit markets, seems ambitious.

“It is a challenge particularly on the lending side of the business,” Benson conceded.

Yet, he added, Dunkin’ continues to franchise, having recently signed deals in Tennessee and Alabama.

“The right people do realize this is an opportunity, they do realize that real estate is available and is available economically in this environment,” Benson said. “The right candidates see this as the time to make a move because when things get better, they want to be in the game and they want to be in a position to grow…”

Atlanta Business Chronicle