Starbucks to enter Chinese retail market

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BEIJING -- The 'Starbucks Experience' that has won hardcore fans in North Amer- ica is coming to China. Starbucks Coffee International has signed a licensing agree- ment with Beijing Mei Da Coffee Co. Ltd. to open retail locations in Beijing; the first store is set to open by the second quarter of 1999.

The Seattle-based coffee company already has retail outlets in Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand, and plans are underway to launch in New Zealand and Korea later this year. Starbucks entered the European market for the first time ear- lier this year through the acquisition of Seattle Coffee Company in the U.K.

Since 1996, Starbucks has opened more than 40 retail sites in Asia Pacific and expects to open 200 stores in the region by 2000.

"China promises to be an exciting market for Starbucks with tremendous growth oppor- tunities," says Howard Behar, president of Starbucks Coffee International.

Bao Zong Ye, general manager of Beijing General Corporation of Agriculture, Indus- try and Commerce (BAIC), a joint venture partner of Beijing Mei Da Coffee Company, adds that "the Chinese people will embrace the unique specialty coffee experience wholeheartedly as Starbucks is recognized for its commitment to quality coffee and excellent customer service. The coffee cul- ture in China will be greatly invigorated with Starbucks entry as the market leader in the country."

Beijing Mei Da Coffee Co. Ltd., which was set up by BAIC and Borderless Investment Group, has been the distribution agent for Starbucks' wholesale operations in Beijing since 1995. Borderless Investment Group is headed by Lawrence Maltz, a former Starbucks executive.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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