Dunkin' Donuts Return to California a 'No Brainer:' CEO
Dunkin' Donuts will be coming back to California in a big way, opening new franchises there in 2015, Dunkin' Brands CEO Nigel Travis said in a "First on CNBC" interview Wednesday.
Dunkin' Donuts, which started in 1950 in Quincy, Mass., has 7,000 stores in 36 states, but none open to the public in the Golden State.
Travis said in a "Squawk Box" interview, "[We're] opening up the first ones [there] in two years' time, but we're selling franchises as of today." It's a "no brainer," he said.
The announcement has been a decade in the making for Californians, who saw the company open a net total of 291 Dunkin' Donuts stores in the U.S. last year — yet there's only one in their state, on the military base at Camp Pendelton. The chain had previously operated in California, but pulled out in 2002.
"We have a lot of experience with California, because we have our other brand Baskin-Robbins, [it's] very strong there," Travis pointed out. "They have over 450 stores there."
He added there will be no shortage of high-quality, Dunkin' Donuts franchise candidates in the state. "I've been approached by so many people who are in show biz and in sports who are interested."
Dunkin' is starting its expansion in the southern part of California. "San Diego up to Los Angeles, taking in Palm Springs and many counties," Travis said. "The reason we're going to the south [first] is we already have contiguous markets in Phoenix and Las Vegas." Dunkin' plans to push into Northern California down the line.
The California expansion is part of an aggressive growth plan, which has seen Dunkin' Donuts become one of the fastest growing quick service chains. The company plans to open 330 to 360 new restaurants in the U.S. in 2013.
Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands went public in July of 2011, and the stock is up more than 15 percent since its debut.
According to market research company The NPD Group, Dunkin' Donuts restaurants serve the most coffee in America, selling 1.7 billion cups of hot and iced coffee every year, lending credence to its famous tagline "America Runs on Dunkin'."
—By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter