Starbucks to expand into Italian market

Amy Reinhardt

That mint-green circular sign and allure of coffee is on the corner of nearly every street, and now it will be appearing on the streets of Italy where the tradition and love of espresso originated.

Starbucks has finalized its plan to partner with Antonio Percassi, an Italian developer, and open its first shop in Milan at the start of 2017. Starbucks’ chairman and chief executive officer, Howard Schultz, declared this announcement Feb. 29.

Percassi is an Italian company that operates in the fashion, e-commerce and real estate markets. In addition to Starbucks they have worked with Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.

“I’m not surprised that they are interested in expanding and I’m sure the decision will make many American tourists happy,” said Hayley Normandin, junior social work major. “Nothing says Europe like an Eiffel Tower Starbucks selfie.”

According to the Starbucks Newsroom, Schultz took a trip 33 years ago to visit both Milan and Verona, and this trip was the spark that ignited his desire to expand the Starbucks culture into Italy.

“I personally have mixed feelings about the corporate expansion. I think that it often takes away from small business owners and I would hate to see this happen in these countries as well,” Normandin said.

Due to the fact that coffee is regarded as an Italian symbol, Starbucks will actively aim to follow this country’s established culture so they can gain a sense of respect from the Italian community.

“I’m not surprised that they haven’t expanded into Italy yet because being in the coffee industry it’s hard to get into a country that is so set on their traditions,” said Sarah Walter, junior photography major. “I’m interested to see how it will end up.”

Despite the challenges that will be faced, Starbucks believes the Italian residents are ready to encounter the traditional Starbucks experience.

“I think there’s going to be mixed reactions, but I think the younger crowd will enjoy it a lot,” Walter said.

After the first store opens in Milan, Schultz and Percassi intend to plant Starbucks retail stores in cities across the country.

“It’s interesting that Starbucks wouldn’t have moved to Italy before now because they even have a coffee called Italian Roast,” said Darria Dennison, sophomore mass media and theatre double major.

Dennison recently started employment with a local Starbucks, located inside the Dillons at 10th Street and Gage, in January.

When Dennison thinks about the set of values that Starbucks works to convey the first thing that comes to her mind is the sense of community.

“Starbucks emphasizes relationships and that’s what makes people come back,” Dennison said.

The Starbucks Coffee Company, started in 1971, currently encompasses over 23,000 stores around the world in over 67 countries including Japan, London, Netherlands, China, Dubai and India.

“This expansion shows that they’re willing to work with new ideas and culturally-held coffee traditions while adapting to a new environment,” Dennison said.