Luckin becomes first coffee chain to open 10,000 stores in China

The Chinese low-cost coffee chain Luckin, also known as China’s answer to Starbucks, has reached the milestone of 10,000 stores with its latest opening in Xiamen, Fujian province.

Luckin is the first coffee chain operating in China to reach this number, beating out foreign and domestic competitors alike. Starbucks China is reportedly aiming to open 9,000 stores by 2025 and buzzworthy homegrown rival MANNER Coffee’s outlets currently number only in the hundreds.

The opening of the new Xiamen store on June 5 saw Luckin introduce a new brand tagline “luck in hand” and invited social media users to “together grab luck in our hands”. The brand also celebrated the milestone with a special offer of 9.9 RMB coffee or 1.40 USD (a cup of coffee usually costs between 15-30 RMB or 2.10-4.20 USD), as well as its ongoing offer of super low prices for new customers.

Luckin’s modus operandi is hyper-convenient takeaway coffee. Customers pre-order on an app, drop into the store to collect their coffee, and take it to go with virtually no queuing and no staff interaction necessary. Opening as many stores as possible to maximise the brand’s visibility has been Luckin’s primary expansion strategy so far. This is aided by the pre-order and takeaway model, which keeps overhead and staffing costs low and requires far less real estate.

But with a new CEO running the company and a firm foothold gained in cities nationwide, this game plan may be beginning to change. After a rapid rise to success that saw the company list on the New York Stock Exchange just 18 months after its establishment, Luckin was fined 2 million RMB (280,000 USD) for inflating its sales figures.

Former CEO and founder Lu Zhengyao has since been replaced with Guo Jinyi, marking a new era for the brand, and Guo claims that everything but the brand’s name has changed. With that in mind, Luckin may be looking to lean closer to the slower paced, experiential model that has seen brands like MANNER rise slowly but surely.


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