FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, China

Luckin Coffee forms joint venture to enter Greater Middle East, India

China’s fastest growing coffee chain makes its first move overseas.

Luckin Coffee, considered to be Starbucks’ biggest rival in China, has signed an agreement with a Middle Eastern food product company to form a joint venture to enter Greater Middle East and India.

The coffee chain, which raised $561m in May through a U.S. initial public offering, signed a memorandum of understanding with Kuwait food company Americana Group in Beijing.

“This collaboration represents Luckin Coffee’s first step toward bringing its leading products from China to the world. We look forward to further expanding the freshly brewed coffee market internationally as we realize the incredible growth opportunities available to us through our innovative business model,” Luckin Coffee founder and CEO Jenny Qian Zhiya said in a statement.

Luckin Coffee currently operates over 3,000 stores across 40 cities in China, with continued plans to open more than 4,500 stores by the end of 2019. If successful, it will unseat Starbucks as the biggest coffee chain in the world’s second largest economy.

The coffee startup’s aggressive strategy seemingly prompted the US-headquartered coffee giant to partner with Alibaba to strengthen its delivery services. Starbucks recently launched its first express retail store in Beijing, which focuses more on digital touchpoints.

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