Dunkin’ Brands Shutters Half its China Doughnut, Ice Cream Shops

(Bloomberg) -- Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. has temporarily closed about half of its 71 Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins locations in China during the outbreak of coronavirus.

The company has also started a global task force, and is distributing masks to its employees in China, Chief Executive Officer Dave Hoffmann said in an interview Thursday. While just a small percentage of Dunkin’s business comes from China, the company is “trying to stay as close as we can to this.”

“It’s the contagion of fear that could spread to other areas of the business,” Hoffmann said, noting that Dunkin’ is figuring out how to retain workers at locations which are closed. Others in the industry including Starbucks Corp., McDonald’s Corp. and Yum China Holdings Inc. have shuttered stores in China amid the virus outbreak that started in the Hubei province. So far, it’s claimed more than 500 lives.

On Thursday, Dunkin’ reported positive same-store sales in its home market in the fourth quarter, but like other chains, it’s still struggling to grow customer traffic. The company also said it plans to close about 450 Dunkin’ U.S. locations in Speedway gas stations this year as it focuses on remodeling its fleet.

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