Philippines becomes Starbucks coffee's third market

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MANILA -- Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. has teamed up with the Rustan Group of Companies, one of Manila's leading retailers, to introduce at least 10 Starbucks outlets in the Philippines.

Manila's first Starbucks Coffee shop opens this week along Ayala Avenue, the country's top financial district. The Philippines is only the third country to have Starbucks outside the U.S. The 26-year old U.S. company opened its first international outlet in Japan in August 1996 and the second, in Singa- pore in December of the same year.

A new company, Rustan Coffee Corp., has been established in Manila to manage the Starbucks locations. The Manila-based firm says it would be aggressively expanding in the Philip- pines, a coffee-loving country.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz describes the U.S. firm's partnership with Rustan as "a perfect blend." Rustan has ample experience selling luxury brands. Starbucks, on the other hand, has maintained its reputation as a top-of-the-line specialty coffee brand.

Noey Tantoco Lopez, director of operations of Rustan Coffee Corp., is confident of Starbucks potential success in the Philippines despite the presence of other coffee bars. A survey conducted by the company last March showed that 12% had heard of Starbucks.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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