Starbucks bets on super premium 'Roastery' to lead Italy debut
By Lisa Baertlein
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O: Quote) is making a big bet on Italy, the home of espresso, with plans to debut in Milan late next year with a sprawling, super-premium Reserve Roastery in a turn-of-the-century post office building on Piazza Cordusio.
Wooing Italian coffee drinkers is a long-term goal of Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, who is handing off the top job in April to focus on building out the company's high-end brands as executive chairman.
The world's biggest coffee seller had initially planned to open its first cafe in Milan this year, but Schultz on Monday said Starbucks for the first time had decided to open a Roastery before a traditional shop. It is now "banking" a small number of sites for stores in Milan, whose openings will follow the Roastery debut, Schultz said.
Starbucks Roastery properties are playgrounds for coffee enthusiasts and significant investments for the company, which aims to dominate the craft coffee segment carved out by smaller, so-called "third-wave" chains such as Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia in the United States.
Starbucks debuted its first Roastery in its hometown of Seattle in December 2014, spending a reported $20 million on that 15,000-square-foot facility.
Schultz has frequently said that he was inspired to open his first coffee shop after visiting Milan and admiring the city's thriving cafe culture.
"This store will be the culmination of a great dream of mine – 34 years in the making – to return to Milan" with an immersive retail experience, Schultz said in a statement.
Italy has the seventh highest per capita coffee consumption in Europe, according to the European Coffee Federation. Continued...