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Article updated: 4/9/2013 9:43 AM

Suburban Caribou stores to close

By Anna Marie Kukec

Coffee lovers turned to Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites Monday to lament the closing of Caribou Coffee Co. stores in Arlington Heights, Palatine, Libertyville, Naperville, Crystal Lake and elsewhere.

The Minneapolis-based company said Monday it plans to close 80 underperforming stores on Sunday. Then an additional 88 coffeehouses in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Eastern Wisconsin will be converted to Peet's Coffee & Tea over the next 12 to 18 months, Mike Tattersfield, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee, said via an email.

"While the decisions we've made have been difficult for our team in Minneapolis, as well as our team members across the country and our guests and fans everywhere, we are working to make this transition as seamless as possible for the Caribou community," Tattersfield said. "We look forward to continuing to deliver extraordinary experiences to our guests and fans, and thank everyone for their passion and commitment to Caribou."

Coffee devotees should check Caribou's online store locator on Monday, April 15, for updated information on Caribou locations. A list of closures or those stores converting to Peet's was not immediately released. Employees were told on Friday and many stores already had signs in their windows by Monday.

Last December, Caribou was acquired by Joh. A. Benckiser Group for about $340 million. BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based merchant bank, became a minority investor. At that time, Caribou said in a news release that it would continue to operate as an independent company with its own brand.

Benckiser also acquired Peet's last October. A Peet's spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Caribou was founded in 1992 and is one of the leading brands nationwide. Based on the number of coffeehouses, Caribou is the second largest coffeehouse company nationwide. Caribou had 610 coffeehouses, including 2,020 franchised locations in 22 states, the District of Columbia and 10 international markets as of last September, the company said on its website.

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