Drive-thrus part of Dunkin' Donuts UK return

Dunkin' Donuts doughnuts box for Valentine's Day

After a 20-year gap Dunkin' Donuts is returning to the UK. For some Brits there's confusion about the US brand: is it a Starbucks or McDonalds/Burger King alternative? Or is high street pasty-and-buttie seller Greggs nearer the mark? Then there's Subway...

Whatever, Dunkin' is back and hoping Brits will grab its jam, coffee and carbs with the help of drive-thrus. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Fat attack

A good 10% of Dunkin' Donuts UK franchise businesses will likely be drive-thrus says the company. It's not all about donuts: butties and porridge will be offered, plus coffee. Coffee is important - a business far bigger than tea in the UK. (Dunkin' will have watched Starbucks' UK success closely.)

In a Time article recently, restaurant analyst for Jefferies & Co, Andy Barish, said the donut bit can mislead. "Donuts are still a significant part of their [Dunkin' Donuts] business. But at the end of the day, it's a coffee company."

The coffee side of its business is reputed to carry very high margins. Krispy Kreme, which has around 50 stores in the UK, is also a competitor.

The UK coffee-to-rolls-to-muffins market looks increasingly crowded. Bear in mind many players in this market have done well, despite huge the financial pressures on consumers through the downturn.

Drive-thru boost

Longer term, Dunkin' wants to grow the London store count to 50 in the next five years and up to 150 across the UK, helped by various alliances. Competitive rents may help. Some high street retail space saw modest increases in restaurants, cafes and betting shops during the downturn as many stores closed.

As for drive-thrus, the UK has less leeway than the US due to land constraints. Tesco trialled a drive-through supermarket in 2010 with very strong results and the drive-thru formula has now been rolled out to 200 grocery Click & Collect drive-thru locations Tesco claims.

The UK also has its first drive-thru bank: a Metro Bank branch in Slough.

But as the Guardian pointed out earlier in the year, the first casualty in any doughnut war is your waistline. There's 49g of sugar in every one Dunkin' donut. "That's more than half the guideline daily amount," sniffed the paper.

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