Dunkin', the coffee and doughnut chain formerly known as Dunkin' Donuts, said Thursday that it is planning to close up to 800 locations across the U.S. by the end of this year.
Earlier this month, the chain confirmed to TODAY Food that it would be closing 450 stores located inside Speedway gas stations. On Thursday, a representative for Dunkin' told TODAY that the company has since identified an additional 350 locations that it is planning to close.
"We are assessing our real estate portfolio and working with our franchisees to permanently close off-strategy, low-volume sales locations," a rep for Dunkin' said in a statement provided to TODAY Food.
The rep added that the 800 stores identified by the chain represent 8% of all U.S. stores, but account for just 2% of sales.
The company said the closures are being made to set the "U.S. system up for continued strong, profitable future growth," but, like many restaurant chains, Dunkin' has been hit hard by coronavirus.
Sales in U.S. shops open for at least a year declined 18.7% over a three-month period ending on June 27 due to decreased food traffic during the pandemic.
"Most of these locations are also unprofitable for the franchisees and are well below average for both sales and profitability," said the rep. "More importantly, for many of these franchisees, closing these restaurants will enable them to invest in remodels, new restaurants, and potentially relocate some to higher-traffic areas, or to areas where they can add a drive-thru. We expect most of these closings will take place this year and will position us and our franchisees for more profitable future growth.”
As of July 25, 96% of Dunkin' locations in the U.S. had reopened. Locations that remain closed are mainly located within transportation hubs, on college campuses and in sports venues, according to the company.
In response to the pandemic, several Dunkin' locations began offering DIY doughnut decorating kits for kids. The chain also recently partnered with Post to create two coffee-flavored cereals that each contain a little bit of caffeine.
EDITOR'S NOTE: (July 31, 2020, 3:30 p.m. EST): An earlier version of this story stated that Dunkin' would be closing 800 locations by the end of 2020. The coffee chain says it expects to close up 800 underperforming locations this year.