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- A view of the store in New Delhi. Click here to view related slideshow.
Starbucks Corp. SBUX -0.34% Thursday will open its first store in India’s capital, bringing to seven the total number of outlets it’s operating in the country.
A 3,500-square-foot store, staffed with almost 40 people, in Delhi’s British-era Connaught Place is the first of a number of outlets Starbucks plans for New Delhi.
The Seattle-based coffee chain in India is dipping its toes into a potentially huge market, but one where the difficulty of finding good locations makes for a challenging operating environment.
Since opening its first store in Mumbai in October, Starbucks has rolled out three more in the financial capital and two in Delhi’s international airport, which is outside the city.
For now, Starbucks’ presence in the world’s second most-populous country, home to 1.2 billion people, is small. But the company says it’s committed to building a sizeable business here.
- The ‘Lal Achari Murgh Turnover’ is an offering unique to the store in New Delhi.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, John Culver, president of the company’s operations in China and Asia-Pacific, said growth in India is going to be “aggressive, yet thoughtful.”
Connaught Place, constructed in the 1930s to house posh shops, has lost much of its colonial charm and today is scarred by construction work. Other parts are run-down, despite a government attempt to restore the site ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Still, it’s one of Delhi’s premier shopping areas and Starbucks has had to make do. Like many shops in Delhi, the chain has concentrated on what it can achieve – making sure the interiors are up to international standards.
This time, the chain, whose stores can often look similar the world over, has gone for an Indian-inspired look.
“We want to create unique spaces and don’t want all of our stores to look the same,” said Mr. Culver
The interior walls are bare cement and local crafts are used to decorate the store.
- The ground floor of the Starbucks store in New Delhi.
Woven ropes made of jute, a natural fiber, snake across the ceiling on the first level. The furniture, too, has been locally designed and developed.
Once you’ve climbed the stairs, look for a portion of the wall on your left with pictures of the five-member team of craftsmen who worked on the décor.
There’s also food you won’t find in Starbucks in the U.S. Try the “Lal Achari Mirch Turnover,” for instance, described on the menu as potato, cheese and pickled red chilli in a croissant. Other experiments include a “Murg Kathi Wrap,” which is a flour tortilla filled with pieces of chicken and a “Murg Makhani Pie.”
These items top the menu, ahead of offerings like “Salmon & Cheese Croissant” and the “Chicken and Spinach Quiche.”
The next destination in India? Setting up shop in Bangalore, the coffee capital of India, is definitely in the cards, said Avani Saglani Davda, chief executive of Tata Starbucks Ltd., a local joint venture between India’s Tata Group and Starbucks which operates the stores. Starbucks also plans to open in second-tier cities, she said.
- Pictures of the team of local craftsmen working on the decor of store.
Mr. Culver lists the U.S., Canada, Japan, China and U.K. as the top five markets for Starbucks across the world and is certain India will make this list in the near future.
More Indians might be drinking expensive coffee as incomes rise. But it’s fair to say India’s seven stores today make it tiny compared to the company’s over 18,000 outlets globally, of which 11,000 or so are in the U.S.
The store is located at Hamilton House, Block A, Connaught Place (Inner Circle).