The coffee empire is partnering with Italian company Percassi to open the first Starbucks store in Italy, scheduled for Milan in early 2017.
Starbucks is finally entering the country that has influenced it so much: Italy.
The coffee empire is partnering with Italian company Percassi to open the first Starbucks store in Italy, scheduled for Milan in early 2017, Starbucks said Sunday.
An unspecified number of Starbucks coffee shops will subsequently be developed in other cities across Italy.
Italy has long figured in Starbucks’ mythology, with Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz saying that his vision for the company began with a trip to Milan and Verona 35 years ago.
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“Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso,” Schultz said in a news release Sunday. “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.”
It remains to be seen if Starbucks can succeed in a country with such a strong, historic and vibrant coffee culture.
Starbucks already has a presence in Europe, but it has not been as successful there as in other markets. The company entered the U.K. in 1998 and there are now about 2,400 stores in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, making up about 10 percent of stores globally.
Italy is expected to prove a challenge. Coffee is a deep part of the culture, with myriad local shops competing to sell espresso and cappuccinos. Most shops operate as places where Italians can get a quick espresso and go on their way, in contrast to Starbucks’ stores, which are designed for customers to sit and work or talk with friends.
“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’re confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience,” Antonio Percassi, president of Percassi, said in the news release.
Percassi, whose headquarters is in Bergamo, a town close to Milan, focuses on three main areas: retail, real estate and the Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio football (soccer) team.
In retail, its own brands include Bullfrog cosmetics and Vergelio footwear, according to the company’s website. It also partners with other brands including LEGO Group, Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren and Nike.
In real estate, it develops and works on large commercial real-estate projects, mostly in partnerships with international investment funds, according to the website.