Viral coffee chain has designs on Starbucks in Chinese market

Four months ago, it barely existed—today, it is bragging about taking over Starbucks’s business in China, and publicly threatening a lawsuit against the Seattle-based chain over “monopolistic” business practices.

The remarkable rise of Luckin (Ruixing) Coffee is backed by deep VC pockets—over one billion RMB, according to CEO Jenny Qian—and an aggressive marketing and sales campaign straight out of Silicon Valley’s playbook.

Over the last four months, Luckin has opened nearly 500 stores across China, from Tianjin and Beijing to Shanghai and Shenzhen. A recent WeChat essay described how 20 stores had sprung up in Shenzhen “almost overnight,” compared with bubble-tea brand Hey Tea’s “tortoise-like speed” of 10 stores per year. “As far as I know, no other brand has expanded their offline stores this fast,” the writer concluded.

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Han Rubo is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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