For those who have visited Italy over the years, there has been a notable lack of Starbucks presence. That is all about to change as Starbucks chairman and chief executive Howard Schultz announced that the Seattle-based coffee giant will open its first store in Milan, the city that inspired his vision for the company.
“Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso. Everything that we’ve done sits on the foundation of those wonderful experiences that many of us have had in Italy, and we’ve aspired to be a respectful steward of that legacy for 45 years,” said Schultz.
The launch will be in partnership with Percassi, and Italian company that manages its own portfolio of brands and engages in joint ventures with others. In the past, Percassi has partnered with the likes of Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Victoria's Secret and Lego Group.
Italy may prove to be a challenging market as the coffee culture there is mainly independent and not as leisurely as the Starbucks experience. Schultz acknowledged that adhering to the Italian culture is a critical component to its success.
“Now we’re going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we’ve been doing and what we’ve learned through our first retail presence in Italy,” said Schultz. “Our first store will be designed with painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture. And, my hope is that we will create a sense of pride for our partners – so much so that every partner who sees our store or walks through the doors will say: ‘We got it right.’”
Starbucks has been a runaway success in the United States, though it has had difficulties in other markets. According to The Guardian, it took 17 years for the company to turn a profit in the United Kingdom and was forced to close a majority of its stores in Australia after failing to make significant inroads.
The Guardian also noted that Starbucks expects China to be its largest market outside of the United States, with 3,400 stores planned by 2019.