Paying tribute to local partner Tata, Starbucks International president John Culver, said the expansion showed the coffee chain’s commitment to India, even though the 50-50 joint-venture has so far struggled for profitability.
''India is one of the most important markets that we operate in. One day, India will be among the top five markets that Starbucks operates around the world,’' Culver said, without offering a timeline.
“At the core of this experience are our Indian partners, who proudly represent the more than 330,000 Starbucks partners around the world, and through their dedication and passion have created a strong foundation for Starbucks as we expand to new cities across India in the years to come.”
The company now plans to open three stores in Kolkata early next year, including one outlet at the iconic Park Mansion designed to reflect Starbucks coffee heritage.
Coffee sales account for 60% of Starbucks' revenues, with tea making up a further 10%. Starbucks introduced the Teavana brand in India in January and Culver said they will continue to make investments in tea, a fast-growing segment in India.
This is despite the Indian unit posting its slowest sales growth last fiscal year, after it slowed down expansion. It continues to report losses, narrowed to Rs160m (US$2.5m) from Rs200m in the last financial year.
Tata Starbucks saw sales growth of 14% during the year ended March 2017—though this is significantly below the 40% growth it saw in earlier years, suggesting that its novelty might be wearing off.
As the company continues to grow in store numbers, it expects to double its employees to 3,000 over the next five years, while aiming to boost the proportion of women in its workforce to 40%—up from 25% today.
“Our success is defined by our incredible partners who take pride in serving our customers with care and passion,” said Sumi Ghosh, chief executive of the Starbucks joint-venture.
“Our aspiration, as we continue to grow, is to be the employer of choice in the market through the investments we make for our partners and by creating brighter opportunities for people across the country.”
Tata’s hundredth store, located at Victoria Mills, is the first Indian Starbucks to serve Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew, a small-batch cold-brew coffee steeped overnight and then infused with nitrogen.
Starbucks entered the market with the opening of its first store at Horniman Circle in Mumbai, in 2012. Today, Its outlets have since expanded to Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore.