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Starbucks Sued by Nation's Biggest Mall Operator

Simon Property says company's plan to close Teavana stores will violate mall leases
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2017 5:47 AM CDT
Starbucks Sued Over Plan to Close Teavana
Matcha tea is prepared at a Teavana store in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(Newser) – America's largest shopping mall operator is suing Starbucks—over its tea. Last month, Starbucks announced it would close all 379 of its Teavana stores next year. But in a lawsuit filed last week in Indianapolis, Simon Property Group says the closures are actually scheduled to take place before the end of 2017, per the Indianapolis Business Journal. Since only two of 78 Teavana leases with Simon expire before next spring—with some continuing for another decade—Simon is seeking to halt the closures, arguing Starbucks is "shirking its contractual obligations at the expense of Simon's shopping centers and the dozens of communities they serve and support."

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While other retailers have been forced to close mall stores to avoid bankruptcy, "that obviously is not the case with Starbucks," the lawsuit alleges. Teavana isn't even in the red, but "Starbucks simply believes it can make more money if it violates the leases than if it honored its contractual promises and obligations," Simon claims. Starbucks tells WBAA that it's "working to resolve this dispute." Should the closures go ahead as planned, they won't be the only big change for Starbucks. The coffee giant will also shutter its online store in October in order to focus on building "digital and mobile customer connections," including "commercial partnerships" with digital companies, Business Insider reports. (Starbucks faced another lawsuit over its "unicorn" drink.)

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