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April 04, 2013
NEW DELHI — Despite a slow start in India, the world's largest coffee chain, Starbucks, says it will continue to expand in the South Asian country. That is good news for the Indian government, which is counting on continued foreign investment to help the country boost economic growth.
The Starbucks outlet in New Delhi’s Connaught Place has been open for more than a month and still draws long lines and interest from young people like Vikram Maour, who until now had only seen the coffee chain on television.
“I think it’s great to have Starbucks in India," said Maour. "We just heard about Starbucks in foreign countries, but to have Starbucks in India, it’s a really good thing.”
Starbucks opened its first store in India in October of 2012, through a joint venture with India’s Tata Global Beverages. The U.S.-based coffee chain had planned to open 50 outlets in the country by the end of last year, but so far has a total of nine stores in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi.
Starbucks officials say despite the delay, the coffee giant wants to eventually make India one of its top five global markets.
Tata Starbucks CEO Avani Davda says India is a complex market for foreign investors, both socially and economically, but that it carries tremendous potential.
“It comes with it’s own set of issues, in terms of how fast the government can move on the reform side," said Davda. "But, I think still, the fundamental business potential is there and if you are a group like Tata or Starbucks, who conducts business in a certain way and understands the potential of the market, I think there is huge opportunity over here.”
That potential can be seen in India’s 300 million-strong rising middle class and a younger population that is increasingly espousing Western tastes. Starbucks...