Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee is closing 80 locations next week and plans to convert 88 others to Peet's Coffee & Tea shops within the next 18 months, the company announced Monday.
"Over the past few months, we at Caribou have revisited our business strategy, including closely evaluating our performance by market to make decisions that best position us for long-term growth," the announcement said.
As a result, 80 "underperforming" stores will close for good on Sunday.
After that, 88 other Caribou locations will become Peet's as Caribou becomes extinct or critically endangered in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, eastern Wisconsin and Washington.
When the purge is complete, Caribou plans to continue to operate 468 locations in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, western Wisconsin, North Carolina, Denver, Colorado, and 10 international markets.
Customers who have Caribou gift cards will still be able to use them at CaribouCoffee.com, the company said on Twitter. It was referring all consumer questions to the toll-free number 888-Caribou (888-227-4268).
As of 2009, Caribou employed more than 6,000 people and had 2009 revenue of $262 million. The company, founded in 1992, was taken private in a $340 million deal in December 2012 by German equity company Joh.A.Benckiser Group, which also owns Peet's.
Starbucks, the king of the coffee forest, reported revenue of $13.3 billion in fiscal year 2012.
Fans of the rustic-themed Caribou coffee shops reacted Monday with dismay, with a certain amount of anger stirred in.
Caribou's promotional Facebook page was sprinkled with comments such as, "Out of respect for the employees who are losing their jobs the least you could do is stop these posts," and "Go to hell. Why would I try it when you are closing my store in LaGrange IL and forcing good, hardworking people out of a job?"
A community called "Caribou Coffee, putting 1,000's of people out of work" popped up on Facebook and had 120 likes by 7 p.m. ET.
Here is a sampling of comments from distraught Twitter users:
Sarah Traczyk ?@cadetkellyy
Swear to god if @Caribou_Coffee disappears for good I will never be okay.
Lexi Hagen ?@Lexi_Hagen
Caribou Coffee is closing most of their stores!?!?! My heart just broke in two
Stephanie Steinberg ?@Steph_Steinberg
Saddest news of the day: Caribou Coffee announced it is closing all stores in Michigan.
Tyrone Smith ?@iFlyNoWings
So Caribou Coffee is pulling out of the Chicago market? Man... I've got a lot of high school memories from hanging there.