Fans of Teavana may still be able to drop by their local mall to pick up a Caramel Chai or a tin of CocoCaramel Sea Salt tea for a little while longer, because a judge just ruled that Starbucks cannot actually close many of its Teavana stores by the end of the year, as it intended.
Starbucks announced in July that it would be closing all 379 of its Teavana stores, most of which are located in shopping malls. But the nation's largest mall operator, Simon Property Group, did not appreciate the news and filed a lawsuit against Starbucks to block it from closing the Teavana stores, on the grounds that Starbucks had signed leases for those stores, and closing them before the end of the lease was Starbucks "shirking its contractual obligations." It also argued that losing a high profile store like Teavana could hurt foot traffic in its malls, and thus hurt the other tenants and cause their stores to close, too.
An Indiana judge agreed, and this week temporarily barred Starbucks from closing 77 underperforming Teavana stores in Simon Property Group malls.
According to the New York Post, this is a very unusual decision. No court has ever specifically enforced a non-anchor client to continue operating like this before, the court ruling said. Real estate lawyers and retail experts said they were shocked.
"We are disappointed in the judge's ruling and will continue to focus on finding a resolution," Starbucks said in a statement. Last month Starbucks also sold its Tazo tea brand to the owner of Lipton, saying it wanted to focus on developing the Teavana premium tea brand in Starbucks stores, rather than in Teavana-branded stores. It expects its tea business to increase in the coming years as people are starting to drink more tea. Check out these these 9 great teas to replace your morning coffee.