Starbucks forays into India

By Vidya   |   Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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Bangalore: After WalMart and Budweiser, it is now the turn for international coffee chain Starbucks to set up their stalls in India according to national daily.

Beckoned by the growing population of middle class tea drinkers in the country, Colman Cuff, the Switzerland-based director of trading and operations at Starbucks, said they were looking at the end of the calendar year for an entry date. He was in the country for the three-day Indian Coffee Festival. "There have been ongoing plans, discussions with potential partners, the government," he added.

The news finally puts an end to the years of speculation about the Seattle-based chain entering the world's second most populous nation, which consumes 10 times as much tea as it does with coffee. The current burgeoning middle class is a new breed that is basking in the country's expanding economy at an annual pace of nine percent. Higher incomes have left the doors open for pricey coffee outlets like Starbucks to step in. Today local chains like Barista and Cafe Coffee Day are helping spread the coffee cafe culture in the country of 1.1 billion people that exports three-quarters of the coffee it produces. , According to Tata Coffee, domestic consumption last year increased to 80,000 tonne, from 60,000 tonne in the previous year.

However Starbucks' entry might face a hurdle with the tariff for imported coffee being as high as 106 percent. "Starbucks offers the same coffees everywhere, from Chicago to Shanghai," said Cuff. "We believe our customers should have the same experience at Starbucks anywhere in the world," he added.

According to a company fact sheet posted on its website, as of November 2006, Starbucks ran 1,434 company-operated outlets outside the United States that serve a variety of coffees brewed from beans procured from around the world.

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