Kenya: Uganda Coffee House Takes Turf War To Java

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Uganda-based coffee chain Café Javas has entered the local market with a new branch in Nairobi, raising competition for Kenya’s restaurant operator Java House.

Café Javas’ new outlet, operating under the name CJ’s, is located at the junction of Biashara and Koinange streets.

The firm’s expansion into Kenya raises its rivalry with Java House with which it was embroiled in a trademark war in its Ugandan home market.

Java moved to the Uganda High Court in 2016 after Mandela Group of Companies, which owns Café Javas, successfully objected to the registrar of trademarks’ acceptance of the Nairobi Java House name.

The court gave the coffee house a go-ahead to register a name as a trademark and to operate its restaurants.

Justice Christopher Izama last year ruled that no evidence had been produced to prove that customers could easily confuse the two restaurant brands. Café Javas has seven branches within Uganda’s capital Kampala and an additional outlet at Victoria Mall in Entebbe.

Java operates 65 branches across East Africa in addition to outlets under Planet Yoghurt and 360 Degrees Pizza brands. Java House has set aside Sh5 billion in a renewed expansion drive over the next five years. About 80 percent of the firm’s expansion drive will focus on opening more outlets in Kenya.

Java Group is the biggest restaurant chain in the region, followed by fast-food brand Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Art Caffe restaurant and Subway.

Artcaffe, which has 12 branches, has been the main competitor for Java House until recently when smaller coffee houses including Kaldis and Connect set up shop locally.

In February this year, the upmarket coffee chain unveiled Artcaffe Fairtrade Coffee Blend from coffee sourced in Nyeri and Machakos to grow its revenue streams.

The product is available at all its outlets for Sh290 served in a French press while a 250 grammes ground box goes for Sh690.

America fast food chain Subway has 12 branches in the region — eight in Kenya, three in Tanzania and one in Uganda.

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