Indonesia’s Fore Coffee closes 16 stores, denies shutdown rumors

Indonesia’s Fore Coffee has permanently closed 16 of its 133 outlets in the country in April as it adapts to the changing business conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Another 45 outlets are also temporarily closed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to co-founder and CEO Elisa Suteja.

“We closed several outlets and are in the process of selling assets related to these locations. The information circulating that Fore is permanently closing all locations is incorrect,” she said.

Tech in Asia reached out to the company for comment after receiving a document listing Fore Coffee’s assets and their values. The company says a staff member had spread “inaccurate and partial information” about the company’s internal data, which led to false public perception.

Photo credit: Fore Coffee

As Jakarta institutes large-scale social restrictions, Fore claims that it’s seeing a 12.8% increase in weekly online sales. It has also introduced both coffee and non-coffee beverages in one-liter packages, which can be purchased through the Fore Coffee app or ecommerce marketplaces like Tokopedia and Shopee.

Founded in 2018, the startup has close links to East Ventures. The Indonesian venture capital firm “incubated” Fore Coffee, which was inspired by China’s Luckin Coffee, in-house.

Its founders came from the firm’s network as well. Suteja was previously a senior analyst at East Ventures, while Robin Boe is a co-founder at Otten Coffee, another East Ventures portfolio company.

The VC firm then led Fore’s US$8.5 million series A round in January 2019, which was joined by the likes of SMDV, Pavilion Capital, and Agaeti Venture Capital. Citing strong growth in the first quarter of 2019, the company raised an additional US$1 million two months later.

By the middle of 2019 – less than a year after its founding – the company had grown to 58 outlets across the Greater Jakarta area, serving an average of 300,000 cups of coffee per month.

But Indonesia’s coffee scene, long dominated by international brands like Starbucks, has seen a rise in new homegrown brands in the past few years. One of Fore’s main competitors is Kopi Kenangan, which is similarly tech-enabled but offers localized beverages at a lower price point than Fore.

Kopi Kenangan, which claims to be profitable, has proven to be a strong fundraising force. Just last week, the company announced a US$109 million series B round led by Sequoia Capital, which follows a US$20 million series A round in July 2019.

As of this month, Kopi Kenangan said that it operates 324 stores across Indonesia while reaching 1 million customers through its mobile app. It expects to have 500 stores by the end of 2020, with plans to expand internationally once the Covid-19 pandemic ends.