Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, on Tuesday launched its 100th store in India in central Mumbai, announcing it would step into Kolkata next year, its seventh city in the country.
The coffee retailer’s group president of international operations and channel development, John Culver, said he saw India as one of its top five markets in the future. “We are committed to long-term investment in India and will focus on scaling up operations here,” Culver said, declining to specify when he saw the country breaking into the top five league.
The coffee retailer’s five biggest markets are the US, Canada, China, Japan and the UK. It operates in India via a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Tata Global Beverages called Tata Starbucks.
Unlike China, where it bought out the stakes of local JV partners Uni-President Enterprises and President Chain Store, Culver said there were no such plans in India.
“We wish to strengthen our relationship (with Tata Global Beverages) looking at opportunities to source different types of tea, apart from coffee, and to take some of the unique flavours here abroad and vice versa,” he said.
The Tata group has an exclusive roastery in Kushalnagar, Karnataka, supplying coffee beans to Starbucks
stores. Other products from the Tata stable, including Himalayan mineral water, flavoured water and sparkling water, have been introduced at Starbucks
stores in India. While some India-specific blends have already been taken to Starbucks
stores in select Asian markets, Culver said such efforts would continue in other markets.
Culver also said the retailer would look at tapping the growing e-commerce channel in India, and a possible tie-up with partner Tata group for the same. “India is an exciting digital market and 25 per cent of our transactions (in the country) come from our mobile application and loyalty programme (Starbucks
Rewards Programme). We will focus on building our digital relationship in India for growth,” he said.
Culver said the company would continue to evaluate new cities and look at scaling up store count.