Starbucks’ to brew coffee with Biyanis in India?

Seattle (Washington) based Starbucks, the world’s biggest gourmet coffee retail chain, with annual turnover in excess of US$ 6 Billion and having 10,241 outlets (as of October 2005) spread across the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Singapore, Germany, China, Chile, Ireland, and Thailand is planning to make its debut in India by mid-2007.

Starbucks will set shop in India in joint venture with Kishore Biyani promoted Planet Retail Holdings according to a report published in the Forbes.

Interestingly, speculations were rife, only a fortnight or so back, about Starbucks having developed an understanding with Goenka owned RPG Enterprises after a long courtship with Ambanis, Bhartis and others.

“China traditionally has been a tea-drinking country but we turned them into coffee drinkers,” said Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz speaking to a gathering of analysts in New York.

Starbucks captured a niche market early in China. However, it’s a slightly different story in India, where a coffee revolution has been quietly brewing and the retailer may already have lost the first-mover advantage, suggest media reports.

“India is a tea-based culture. We’re not saying coffee is a substitute. We’re saying Starbucks is a place to hang out, to eat and drink, to see and be seen,” says Christine Day, president of Starbucks Asia Pacific Group.

Industry reports suggest that India’s nascent gourmet coffee market holds the potential for 5,000 cafes over the next 5 years.

New Delhi-based Barista Coffee Company opened its first “coffee bar” in India four years ago. Today it operates 130 cafes around the country, which bear an uncanny resemblance to Starbucks.

Starbucks will be looking to add 100 stores every year for the next five years. Even though this strategy looks aggressive, it makes sense.

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