Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz fuelled speculation that the brand is coming to the land of espresso, Italy. The multinational coffee-house chain grew from 11 stores in 1983 to a global leader, with 29,000 outlets worldwide.
Schultz said that his vision of Starbucks was born after a visit to Milan 35 years ago. The Guardian reports that the city will now be the brand’s port of entry into the country, converting a former post-office in Piazza Cordusio, close to the Duomo, into the first Italian Starbucks store.
Aware of the difficult market ahead, Mr Schultz said his company in coming not to teach Italians about coffee but, rather, to show what Starbucks has learnt. He said the company is entering Italy “with humility and respect”.
The president of the Italian Espresso National Institute Paolo Nadalet expressed his satisfaction that the international brand is coming to Italy and played down fears that it would impact local bars that have been serving coffee for years.
“I think Starbucks can help all other bars to improve on both service and taste,” Nadalet said.
The store in Milan will likely appeal to travellers or those looking for free wifi and an armchair, an ambiance not traditionally found in speedy Italian bars.
Figures by FIPE, Italian catering industry group, show that bars in Italy serve 6bn espressi annually, generating a turnover of €6.6bn. With 100 millions customers served every week, Starbucks will hope to have the experience to take a share of that.
More than 5,000 applications have reportedly been received by Starbucks for the 150 jobs advertised.
Sources: The Guardian, Wanted In Milan