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MONTREAL -- Starbucks Coffee Co. has opened its first storefront outlet in Montreal and announced plans to move heavily into the Quebec market, opening between 50 and 75 outlets in the next five years,

While the company will do many things similarly to Starbucks operations in its markets in the rest of the world -- operating with concern for the environment and offering a relaxed, meeting place atmosphere -- there are several major differences in its Quebec program:

  • The province is the only place in the world where there is a subtle name change, to Cafe Starbucks Coffee.

  • The stores are not corporate-owned. They are being opened under a long-term licensing agreement with Vision Cafe, a subsidiary of Interaction Restaurants, which also operates Pizza Hut restaurants in Quebec.

  • To conform to the tastes and expectations of Quebecers, fresh foods will be prepared on the premises, something not done elsewhere.

Starbucks, which until now had only offered a few small kiosk operations in Montreal, is opening the full retail outlets in trendy areas and making sure that building renovations conform to codes regarding heritage sites.

The company expects quick success in the province because Quebecers are more partial to espresso than in other North American markets, and Starbucks' is more noted for its espresso drinks than most of its established competitors.

For promotion, Starbucks relies heavily on public relations and sponsorships but does some advertising, mainly in the form of point-of-purchase material, leaflets for mailbox drops and, possibly in the future, outdoor advertising material. Agency is pdg Strategie Concept, which is currently merging with Communications bleu blanc rouge.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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