Starbucks Drives Single Tea Brand Strategy with Teavana

"With our growth strategy for premium tea exclusively focused on Teavana, we are pleased to transition our Tazo business to Unilever", Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement.

Tazo, the companies' announcements explain, is sold primarily in grocery and convenience stores and in "mass channels" as tea packages, K-cup pods and.

This acquisition is the latest in a series of deals by Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch consumer giant, to add smaller, healthier brands to expand its portfolio in a fast-growing specialty tea segment. Despite announcing in July the decision to close all 379 Teavana brick-and-mortar outlets, Starbucks extended the brand with the February launch of Teavana Craft Iced Teas.

Founded in 1994 by a team that included Steven Smith and purchased by Starbucks in 1999 for $8.1 million, Tazo was once a specialty tea brand in its own right.

Unilever North America president Kees Kruythoff, meanwhile, praised TAZO's strong appeal with millennials.

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The transaction is expected to be close in the fourth quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approval.

Starbucks sold more than $1.6 billion in the Teavana brand in the past 12 months, compared to $112 million in sales for Tazo brand beverages.

On an earnings call on Thursday, Johnson shared that the company will focus on streamlining setups while investing in business in China, which is anticipated to reinforce half of growth next fiscal year.

The Seattle-based roaster was also hit by growing pains as the company took charges related to restructuring and refining its operations. Its earnings were 55 cents per share, on the nose with analyst projections. Net revenue was US$5.7 billion, short of the estimate of US$5.8 billion. USA same-store sales grew 2%. The company said US same-store sales would have risen 3% in the quarter if not for closures and lost business related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Over the long-term, the café chain is targeting global comparable sales annual growth of between 3% and 5% and annual growth in consolidated net revenue of the high-single digits.


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