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Starbucks will not be closing down the airport locations they've already opened with HMSHost.

HMSHost ends exclusive contract with Starbucks: Why that means you’ll see more Starbucks in airports

HMSHost has announced a new strategy to work with more local coffee brands while Starbucks is now free to work with other foodservice partners

Starbucks and airport foodservice company HMSHost — part of travel foodservice company Autogrill Group — are ending their decades-long exclusive partnership. Although the two companies will continue to work together in more than 120 airports around the globe, HMSHost will be focusing on its new strategy to bring local coffee brands into airports.

“We have had great success in bringing regional chefs and popular city dining favorites to airports and we’re ready to do the same with the coffee category,” HMSHost president and CEO Steve Johnson said in a statement about the exclusive contract, which has been in place since 1991. “While we have, and will continue, a long partnership with Starbucks, we’re continuing to innovate in this space and focus on serving consumer and airport partner needs.”

At the same time, Starbucks will also take advantage of its freedom by expanding its airport café repertoire and partnering with new airport concessions companies.  

Starbucks told Fox Business News that it will be exploring new relationships with other licensing partners to bring digital ordering to the forefront of its travel hub capabilities.

“HMSHost has been our exclusive partner in the airport industry and we are actively negotiating our future together,” a spokesperson for Starbucks told Fox Business News. “We are also in active conversations with other operators who have a track record of elevating the customer experience and innovating in the channel.”

HMSHost meanwhile, is already starting to bring in fresh new faces to the coffee category with the launch of a new 10-year $60 million contract with Jacksonville international Airport in Florida. HMS will be opening an outpost of the Neptune Beach, Fla.-based coffee shop, Southern Grounds in the Jacksonville International Airport in fall 2020. Southern Grounds regularly works with local farmers and chefs to fill its food and drink menu.

“With our partnership with HMSHost and Jacksonville Aviation Authority, we aim to change that with a sense of community, great cup of coffee, and a relaxing customer centric atmosphere,” Southern Grounds owner Mark Janasik said in a statement.

The company also said that they’re looking to partner with unique “emerging coffee brands” that can transform from coffee shops to “lively bars in the evening with entertainment,” mobile carts that can move from gate to gate to sell coffee, and concepts that utilize technology to make the coffee experience easier for travelers.  

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @joannafantozzi

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