Seattle’s Best Coffee has seen accelerated growth of its franchise base signing an additional 10 new franchisees. These new franchisees, which plan to open cafes in several states including Calif., Ill., Texas and N.Y., will help grow its current cafe count from more than 550 as the brand expands across the U.S. Seattle’s Best Coffee also continued to update and expand its franchise program offerings to reflect key components that make the brand more attractive to potential franchisees.

To further drive the growth of the brand, a significant yet under-invested brand within the Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) portfolio, Seattle’s Best Coffee has recently expanded its leadership team with the appointments of long-time Starbucks veteran Michelle Gass, president, Seattle’s Best Coffee, to lead and grow the brand, and John Wuycheck to fill the new position of vice president, Franchising Business Development, to specifically focus on the franchising opportunity. These investments in the brand demonstrate the ongoing importance that Seattle’s Best Coffee plays in the growth of Starbucks Corporation.

“The rapid expansion of Seattle’s Best Coffee will continue to be driven by opportunities to broaden our overall portfolio of cafes, consumer packaged goods and foodservice accounts,” said Gass. “We think there is a very big opportunity – much larger than the business today – that is complementary to the Starbucks brand and will be a significant competitor to other brands that currently exist in the market.”

“We’re extremely proud to have been recognized in January by QSR magazine as ranking among the 10 best franchising values,” said Wuycheck. “We believe we made smart and strong investments in our franchising program in 2009 and will work to continue to build upon those strides in the coming year.”

The recently updated Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) outlines several key items that will further strengthen Seattle’s Best Coffee’s position as a franchisor of choice, including:

•Item 19: For the first time, the company is providing an Item 19 financial performance representation from its company-operated cafes from its fiscal 2009 sales.
•VetFran and MinorityFran programming: Through the support of the International Franchising Association’s (IFA) sanctioned programs VetFran and MinorityFran, Seattle’s Best Coffee is able to offer special rates to veterans and minority individuals or those individuals interested in locating Seattle’s Best Coffee units in traditionally under-served communities.

“I chose to franchise with Seattle’s Best Coffee because of the people, the product and the brand,” said Melissa Gobinda, general manager, SeattleNY, LLC, a newly signed franchisee. “From its training program and retail options to its team of experts and on-going marketing support, Seattle’s Best Coffee offers me an ideal franchising opportunity. I am excited to be one of the first operators to build out the New York City market.”

Seattle’s Best Coffee offers franchises to qualified and select applicants, using a pre-defined set of criteria and focusing on multi-unit franchisees with a proven track record of success. Expansion of the franchise program in the U.S. will continue to focus on Western states and Texas; however, qualified prospects from other regions nationwide will be considered.