Starbucks Seeks One of the Largest Markets on Earth

Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) will launch its first store in India in the second half of this year in alliance with India’s Tata Group, with whom the Seattle-based company signed a procurement agreement for coffee beans in January 2011.

This was announced in New Delhi today by Hameed Huq, Managing Director of Tata Coffee Ltd. Starbucks is the world’s largest coffee chain operator and has long been expected to enter India, the fastest growing major economy after China. Existing coffee retail chains such as Barista Coffee Co., owned by Italian company Lavazza S.p.A., and local chain Café Coffee Day, could offer competition to Starbucks.

India’s recent move to do away with the 51 percent limit on foreign-owned, single-brand retail chains may have helped Starbucks to push ahead with its Indian plans.

Starbucks is “moving forward with MOU discussions and planning” in India, John Culver, president of the coffee chain’s international business, said in an emailed statement last week.

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