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The lady who knows what's brewing at Tata Starbucks

33-year-old Avani Saglani Davda named CEO coffee chain to open first store in Mumbai by October-end

Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai 

She is the youngest CEO of any joint venture the Tata group has been associated with. A Tata Administrative Service officer, (33) will lead the charge at Tata Starbucks, which will open its first coffee shop in India at a Tata property in Mumbai, by October-end.

The low-profile Davda has spent 10 years with the Tata group — six of which were as the chief of staff at Tata Sons Director R Krishna Kumar’s office, overseeing the hospitality, beverages and real estate businesses. This was enough for a vantage point view of the way the JV was shaping up. Davda, who holds a masters degree in management from the Mumbai University was deeply involved when TGB was going through a major restructuring, from just a tea company to a food & beverages major.

At her first media briefing on Friday, Davda showed off her skills of a CEO who would hardly give anything away. Asked about the price points at which the Starbucks service would be offered, she said consumers would see “value in the offering”.

Experts, however, say that food & drink put together at a Starbucks cafe could cost nothing less than Rs 250.

Customers would have an assortment of food items, besides coffee and allied beverages, she said, adding the menu had been crafted with the Starbucks team. “And, food is a big part of the experience. We will incorporate a unique dish in every city, blending local flavours.”

A cautious Starbucks President (China & Asia-Pacific) John Culver, who was also present at the briefing, said: “We will be aggressive about growth, but we will do it thoughtfully.”

He said: “Starbucks is a strong brand and Tata has a strong history of credibility and trust with the Indian consumer. We want to enter India in the right way.”

This will mean that the JV company, which committed an initial investment of Rs 400 crore, or $80 million, this January, will not get into franchise operations in the country. Instead, the emphasis will be on owning and operating stores. Culver also declined to specify whether the company would achieve the target of 50 stores in the first year of operation, as indicated this January.

All that the two executives divulged was that a “series of stores” would be set up by the end of this calendar year in Mumbai — in hotels, malls, offices and commercial complexes. Both declined to specify how many these would be. “By early 2013, stores will be rolled out in Delhi-NCR,” said Davda. “After that, we will evaluate which markets to enter,” she added.

First Published: Sat, September 29 2012. 01:17 IST