Starbucks adapts to Gallic tastes in growth quest

Thu May 27, 2010 9:49am EDT
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By Lionel Laurent

PARIS (Reuters) - Coffee chain Starbucks Corp is changing its ways in France and trying to adapt to the local palate as it tries to break with past losses.

The group's French outlets have recently started to offer well-known local fare like the "cafe gourmand" -- a single shot of espresso served with three delicate pastries including a mango macaroon.

It is a far cry from the 12-ounce cups of American coffee and chunky muffins that made Starbucks a worldwide brand, but after years of losses in France the $20 billion group is having to make concessions to the local cafe culture.

Achieving international success in markets like continental Europe and Asia is seen as crucial for Starbucks as it seeks to drive growth outside a saturated home market.

"We in France don't drink coffee all day long and flavored coffee is not in our culture," said Bernard Boutboul, head of food retail consultancy Gira Conseil.

Starbucks needed to "Gallicise" its menu if it wanted to succeed in France, Boutboul said.

Other typically American brands have taken similar steps.

Domino's Pizza Inc for instance sells special pizzas such as the Savoyarde, smothered in fragrant Reblochon cheese from the Haute-Savoie region in the French Alps, while McDonald's Corp has offered toasted ham and cheese "croque monsieur" sandwiches.   Continued...