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After nearly 65 years in business with more than 10,000 restaurants in 32 countries worldwide, Dunkin’ Donuts still has room for expansion in the United States.
“We’re a 65-year-old brand, iconic in nature, but we’ve still got this stuff called ‘white space’ — undeveloped territory across the United States,” said Grant Benson, CFE, vice president of development for Dunkin’ Brands Inc. “We’ve been on this westward migration of contiguous growth over the last eight or nine years.”
In some cities, particularly in the Northeast, Dunkin’ Donuts has achieved market penetration of one store per every 5,000 people, yet the state of California surprisingly has just one Dunkin’ Donuts store at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Benson told Franchise Chatter.
“That’s the largest single prize that’s still rising yet,” Benson said of California, but there are many other markets where the Dunkin’ brand has yet to have a presence.
For example, Dunkin’ Donuts recently announced the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with existing franchisee Sizzling Donuts LLC for seven new restaurants in communities throughout northern Utah. The first restaurant in the northern Utah area — consisting of communities north of Bountiful — is planned to open in 2013, with the remainder by 2020.
In 2012, Sizzling Platter LLC formed the subsidiary Sizzling Donuts LLC and signed multi-unit franchise agreements to develop 36 new restaurants throughout Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colo.; and El Paso, Texas over the next several years. Sizzling Donuts currently operates five Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in El Paso and two more are currently under construction in the El Paso area. The group plans to open a total of eight additional units by the end of this year.
And Benson said there are other opportunities in places such as Reno, Nev.; Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit, Mich., among other locations.
“Franchise candidates these days can go many, many places,” he said. “Never has it been more exciting as it is today with Dunkin’.”
Benson, 53, has been with Dunkin’ Brands for 27 years and says he has seen a lot of change in the franchise industry as he has worked in operations, franchise development, marketing, and planning for the company.
“There tends to be an inverse correlation between the risk of the opportunity and the size of the opportunity that exists,” he said.
Investors today can choose to partner with an up-and-coming franchise, but they risk minimal brand awareness among consumers. On the other hand, he said, potential franchisees who want to align themselves with proven, iconic brands minimize their risk, but may find there is very little territory left to conquer.