Caribou Coffee Co. is taking its product international with plans to develop coffeehouse franchises throughout the Middle East, Bachir Mihoubi, vice president of global franchising for the coffee retailer, told GlobalFax last week.

The Minneapolis-based company tapped Mr. Mihoubi in September to develop an international franchising division for the brand.

He set up headquarters for Caribou’s international operations in Atlanta, building on his experiences in opening franchise markets for Cinnabon LLC and Seattle’s Best Coffee LLC in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Both are divisions of Atlanta’s AFC Enterprises Inc.

Caribou plans to set up initial operations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to Mr. Mihoubi, who is to travel to the Persian Gulf states in the coming months.

“We have found a market for the American-style coffeehouse atmosphere in the Middle East,” he said, explaining Caribou’s franchise strategy. “There are a number of other chains that are doing well in the Middle East already.”

The company is looking to franchise to partners with solid financial backing and some franchising experience, he added.

It is also important for franchise partners to have knowledge of U.S. business practices, said Mr. Mihoubi.

“In many ways, franchising is simply the transfer of know-how, so you need to find business partners that are receptive to that,” he noted.

Mr. Mihoubi added that he would be traveling to Europe in the coming months to seek out expansion opportunities for Caribou there.

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