August 10, 2009 | last updated May 26, 2012 8:14 am

Stop & Shop Shifts Course On Coffee

Three years after it was announced, the great doughnut shop swap is under way in Stop & Shop supermarkets in north-central Connecticut.

But it's not going quite the way it was presented in 2006 when the Stop & Shop chain announced an agreement to open Starbucks Corp. stores inside its supermarkets, replacing Dunkin' Donuts shops.

A third party — Montreal-based Van Houtte coffee company — has joined the shuffle, according to Stop & Shop spokeswoman Faith Weiner.

"Some are converting and some are closing," Weiner said of the in-store Dunkin' Donut locations. "In stores where we are closing locations we have installed Van Houtte machines for the convenience of customers who want to enjoy fresh coffee while they shop."

Stop & Shops in Enfield, South Windsor, and Vernon are converting to Starbucks, but those in East Hartford, Manchester, and Windsor will be getting the Van Houtte equipment, according to Weiner.

Van Houtte bills itself as "the largest Canadian roaster and distributor of gourmet coffees to food retailers" on its Web site. Van Houtte also operates about 70 cafes in Quebec.

Dunkin' Donuts — based in Massachusetts, like Stop & Shop — had operated shops inside most of the chain's supermarkets since 2002.

Seattle-based Starbucks gradually started usurping Dunkin' Donuts shops in Stop & Shop markets in New York and New Jersey in 2007. Starbucks also is in Connecticut Stop & Shops in Fairfield, Groton, and Montville.

Within the past two weeks, Dunkin' Donuts have started disappearing from Stop & Shops in the Hartford area as well, as the stores prepare for new vendors.

Under terms of the 2006 agreement, the stores will sell a variety of Starbucks products including freshly brewed coffee, frozen blended beverages, teas, espresso beverages, and pastries.

Certain locations will also offer table seating and wireless Internet access, William Cummings, Stop & Shop's executive vice president of operations said in the contract announcement.

The Starbucks licensed stores will be operated and staffed by Stop & Shop employees, Cummings said.

Based in Quincy, Mass., Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of the Dutch-based Royal Ahold Co., and operates 375 supermarkets.

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