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    Starbucks to Open U.S. Chain of Juice Bars

    First of the new outlets expected to debut on the West Coast by mid-2012.

    SEATTLE -- Starbucks is the latest to jump on the juice bar trend. The world's largest coffee retailer will open a chain of juice bars in the United States beginning next year.

    The move represents the chain's biggest-ever expansion beyond coffee. Although Jamba Juice is sure to be Starbucks' biggest competitor, several other retailers have tried their hand at offering juice bars or smoothie products. Smoothies have become staples at McDonald's restaurants. In addition, as Convenience Store News Online previously reported, Duane Reade opened a juice bar at its flagship New York City store in July.

    Starbucks' juice bar openings will be incorporated with Evolution Fresh, a fruit and vegetable juice maker that Starbucks bought yesterday for $30 million cash.

    According to Reuters, the first Starbucks juice bar will open on the U.S. West Coast in mid-2012. It is unknown the quantity and locations of future outlets. A new name for the chain is also yet to be determined.

    Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said on a conference call yesterday that opening juice bars was only the first step in the retailer's efforts to go after the health and wellness market. "We think we can build a major business," Shultz said.

    Despite lofty aspirations, analysts were more skeptical of the move because of lower margins for juice bars compared to coffee shops, and the fact that Jamba Juice has struggled financially during the past few years.

    "It has interesting potential, but I don't know if it has the broad appeal that coffee has," Bob Goldin, executive vice president at foodservice consultancy Technomic Inc., told Reuters.

    However, Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy told the news outlet that Starbucks is smart and if it sees that the juice bar is failing, it would pull the plug on the project quickly.

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