Starbucks plans to open outlets in India for the first time under a deal announced on Monday with Tata Global Beverages, billed as the world’s second-largest tea company. Tata, part of steel-to-software conglomerate Tata Group, and Seattle-based Starbucks said they had entered into a 50:50 joint venture that will operate Starbucks cafes starting later this year. “India is a unique market which gives us huge opportunities,” Starbucks’ China and Asia Pacific president John Culver told reporters.
The first outlets will open in the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai in August or September with plans for at least 50 cafes by the end of 2012. Starbucks outlets are planned for shopping malls, airports, railway stations and other locations. Starbucks has for years been eyeing the Indian market, where major US food giants including McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut have already established a strong presence.
However, it will face strong competition from established local coffee chains including Costa Coffee and Cafe Coffee Day. The nation of 1.2 billion people has traditionally been a tea-drinking country, but Western-style coffee chains have grown in popularity in recent years among the wealthy and growing middle class.