Starbucks plans expansion to Italy

Katie Biddle, Staff Writer

In recent cultural news, Starbucks, earlier this week, announced plans to open its first shop in Milan, Italy. Though CEO Howard Scultz has often cited Milan’s coffee shops and roasts to be inspirations for the multi-billion dollar chain, fear of rejection and possible publicity embarrassment, such as an italian inspired coffee shop being rejected by italians, has made the company tentative to launch the chain there. In a Monday press release, Shultz said:

“We’re going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we’ve been doing and what we’ve learned,” he said. “Our first store will be designed with painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture.”

The company plans to partner with Italian brand manager Percassi, and the store is predicted to open early 2017. Many say that the free wi-fi, novelty, and newness of the chain in the location will attract customers, but others are wary of its intrusion:

“Italians love anything American, anything American they’ll get excited about. But because they already have such great handmade coffee, and a cafe-bar culture, I think that there will be some resistance, and they won’t like Starbucks as much as they think they might,” Bear Creek Italian Teacher Professor Ehrenberg said. “I think they’ll find that the food isn’t the healthiest, and it might be a great novelty but won’t spread throughout Italy.”

The chain opens approximately three new stores per day, but Europe has always been a touchy area; many believe that the company was afraid it wouldn’t be able to draw customers from the culturally traditional mom-and-pop cafes and shops common in Europe. Many Europeans aren’t quite sure how to react to the news, but they will soon find out on a larger scale: France, Germany, and Spain are also set to open Starbucks in the next few years as well. Massive plans are also set for China.

It remains to be seen how the first Italian Starbucks will be received. Reportedly, one town has already started an association to protect historic cafes, perhaps forseeing a threat to the rich culture of coffee in the area. Trumped only by oil, coffee is the second-highest valued trade commodity, and that fact can make Starbucks’ plan a very expensive failure if it doesn’t turn out well.