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Australian coffee giant embroiled in bitter battle over beans

Australian coffee giant Gloria Jean’s is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that threatens to lift the lid on one of the most secretive companies in Australia.

Gloria Jean’s parent company, Jireh International, is accused of breaking a joint venture agreement with a small US-based coffee supplier, Western Export Services. Western is suing Jireh for AUD56 million (USD51.4 million) in unpaid commissions and damages. Jireh has launched a cross-claim, saying the 1996 agreement was invalid.

With 489 cafes around Australia and another 432 around the world, the Gloria Jean’s coffee chain has global sales estimated at AUD500 million (USD458.9 million) a year. Its franchisees not only pay a fee but are also required to enter into an exclusivity deal that obliges them to purchase all their supplies from Jireh International.