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Starbucks’ Schultz: India’s Coffee Market is ‘Ferocious’

starbucks flagship mumbai india

Starbucks Mumbai

In a recent interview with the Economic Times, Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Shultz discusses the company’s new presence in India, where it has now opened a flagship store in Mumbai. The Seattle-based coffee giant is working with Tata Coffee, a unit of Tata Global Beverages, which is partnering with Starbucks on roasting, as well as real estate acquisitions and retail operations.

Here Schultz describes the decision to work with Tata in the Indian market:

The coffee market here is ferocious in terms of competition. There are so many players trying to do what we think we can do better. What Tata brings is a unique perspective in terms of real estate acquisition capabilities, the opportunity to integrate Starbucks into Taj Hotels, the ability to bring food from the Taj into Starbucks stores and the capability that we just could not do on our own just in terms of the infrastructure and distribution. Their previous experience had no bearing whatsoever on what we thought would be a fantastic partnership.

When pressed by the Times about what the company’s specific growth plans are for India, Schultz remained tight-lipped:

We have not said how many stores we are going to open in India. People keep asking for how many, how soon. Let us open up one store. We are going to open up two next week and let us see. Our history as a company is to accelerate growth. We have opened 700 stores in mainland China in 13 years, but we had educated their market unlike here.

Read the full interview here.