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Dunkin' Donuts plans Europe expansion

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., which reported flat earnings on Wednesday after becoming a public company a week earlier, said it plans to rejuvenate the struggling Baskin-Robbins brand in the U.S. and expand its Dunkin' Donuts chain in Europe.

Dunkin' Donuts' U.S. revenue grew 6.3 percent over the year, helped by the success of new stores. But the U.S. division of Baskin-Robbins, hurt by rising dairy costs, was the only unit to lose revenue over the year, with a decrease of nearly 6 percent.

Nigel Travis, who's been CEO since early 2009, told analysts on Wednesday that he largely had been focusing on the Dunkin' Donuts U.S. brand, which makes up about 70 percent of the company's revenue. The brand, which has been in a fight with Starbucks and McDonald's Corp. for the loyalty of coffee drinkers in an increasingly competitive market, opened more new U.S. locations last year than any restaurant except Subway.

"That tends to happen in companies where you have a big opportunity like Dunkin' Donuts," said Travis about his focus on the brand. "It is easy to forget some of the other bits."

Travis said he's now turning some of his attention to Baskin-Robbins. He said he's reaching out to Baskin-Robbins franchisees, introducing new technology to their operations, and cutting the fields of operations managers to allow them to focus on 50 stores each instead of 120.

Travis also said he plans to expand the Dunkin' Donuts brand beyond the company's current focus in Asia, where stores may enjoy low costs but also relatively low sales, into Europe, beyond the company's base of Germany, Russia and Spain.

Both brands have done well internationally. Revenue grew the most -- by 17.3 percent -- in the international unit of Dunkin' Donuts, driven by sales in South Korea, Southeast Asia, Russia, Colombia and the Middle East. But it made up just a tiny sliver of the company's overall revenue, about 2.4 percent.

Dunkin' Brands said its net income fell 1 percent in the quarter ended June 25, to $17.2 million, weighed down by the higher costs for ingredients. Earnings excluding one-time items fell about 3 percent, to $24.7 million, which the company said was because it paid higher interest costs before retiring some of its debt.

Revenue climbed about 4 percent to $157 million, helped by new store openings and by customers buying more on each visit.

Dunkin Brands' shares fell $1.17, or 4.2 percent Wednesday, to $26.59.

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