Starbucks is to expand into Italy. It plans to open its first outlet in the country at Milan in 2016. Howard Schultz, chief executive at the American coffee chain said this was a 30-year dream come true. "The dream of the company always has been to sometime complete the circle and open in Italy, but we haven't been ready", Schultz, who was originally inspired to open his company because of his experiences in Italian coffee bars, said.
To facilitate this expansion, Starbucks is working with Percassi, the Italian company which operates in the field of fashion retail, e-commerce and real estate. In the past, Percassi is known for having partnered with companies like Benetton apart from working with American brands including Nike, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. It is also known for helping bring Zara into the Italian market.
Antonio Percassi, the founder and president at Percassi, said that opening a coffee chain in his home market was tricky. "We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy, the country of coffee, and we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets", he added.
While Starbucks has thousands of outlets across Europe, this would be its first in Italy. This long wait, indicates the stiff competition Starbucks expects at the home of the espresso. According to research firm Euromonitor, Italy's independent cafés and bars, which show the distinctive coffee culture in the country, account for 90% of the market.
On the upside however, Italy presents as a huge opportunity for Starbucks because it is one of the largest consumers of coffee in the European Union. The country is also the largest importer of coffee beans in the world.
Regarding the menu, Starbucks said, "We plan to tailor our offerings to the Italian customer in a way that will demonstrate the respect and learning we've acquired. [However] espresso will clearly be star of the show"
Another US brand serving an Italian fare that is planning to enter the European country is Domino's Pizza. The American pizza chain announced in October 2015 that it plans to enter Italy with pizzas that suit the tastebuds of the locals, with locally-sourced ingredients. While its outlets are expected to be operated by a local master franchiser, it promised an ultimate "local pizza menu"
Starbucks has 21,000 coffee shops across the world. While, it is planning to open 1,800 more in fiscal 2016, the Washington, US based company has not been successful in every market, it has entered. One such market where it failed was Australia, where it closed most of its outlets in 2008, according to the Financial Times.