In Mumbai, Starbucks opens first India store
By Erika Kinetz ,AP
October 20, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
MUMBAI -- Starbucks inaugurated its first store in India Friday in a historic building in southern Mumbai as the Seattle-based coffee giant seeks growth in a market long associated with tea drinkers.
"It is perhaps the most elegant, beautiful, dynamic store we've opened in our history," chief executive Howard Schultz said in an interview.
After over six years of studying the local market, Starbucks is making a rapid-fire entry into Asia's third-largest economy. Coffee houses are still a relatively new trend in India, and the chains already in business sell cappuccinos and lattes well below Starbucks' usual prices.
The company, in a joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, plans to open two additional stores in Mumbai next week — on Wednesday in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and on Thursday in the Oberoi hotel across town — before launching in New Delhi early next year.
For the flagship Mumbai store, Starbucks chose the historic Elphinstone Building in the Horniman Circle neighborhood of south Mumbai, not far from a vast Hermes shop and a stately local park maintained with funds from the family foundation of Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna.
The flagship, which can accommodate 120 people, is a cool, soaring space, with hand-carved wooden screens, thick tables of solid Indian teak, painted vintage trunks and old leather-bound books.
Schultz said he hoped the effect would be like "walking into a shrine of Starbucks coffee."
The shop will offer free Wi-Fi and stay open until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on weekends, unusually late for Mumbai cafes.