China startup Luckin Coffee raises $200 million to propel expansion

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Luckin Coffee, which has been expanding aggressively and touting itself as a local rival to Starbucks Corp SBUX.O, said on Wednesday it raised $200 million in a fundraising round that values the on-demand coffee delivery startup at $1 billion.

Investors in the fundraising round included Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Luckin said in a statement.

Luckin, which started operations just this year, says it has already opened 525 stores in 13 cities across China as of May, and has been pushing hard to win consumers to its stores and via online delivery with low prices and fast delivery times.

“The funds we raise will be used for product research, technology innovation and business development,” Luckin CEO Qian Zhiya said in the statement.

The Chinese coffee startup - which does strong business selling and delivering coffee online - has been training its sights on far larger rival Starbucks, even as the U.S. chain has seen a sudden slowdown in its China growth.

Starbucks, which has over 3,000 stores in China, has said same-store sales would be flat to slightly negative in its second-biggest market in April-June. It is now looking to bolster its online delivery business in China.

Reporting by Pei Li and Se Young Lee; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Sunil Nair