Starbucks is preparing to open its largest store in Europe – in the country regarded as the home of the coffee house.
The chain has secured an 8,000 square foot former post office building in Milan, just yards from the city’s famous Duomo cathedral.
Although Starbucks operates 28,000 stores worldwide, it has always stayed away from the Italian market. Reports this morning claim news of its arrival in Italy has prompted protests, with calls for the chain to be boycotted.
Starbucks indicated its plans to launch in Italy as far back as two years ago, but its debut has been plagued by setbacks and delays.
However, executive chairman, Howard Schultz, confirmed at a conference in Milan earlier this week that its first Italian outlet would be ready for trading in September.
Mr Schultz was quoted as saying: “I came to Italy in 1983 when I was young, and my imagination was captured by the sense of community of Italian bars and this was the idea I brought to the United States. We do not want to teach you how to make coffee, but we want to show you what we have learned.”
It is understood that the Milan store will be a Roastery, one of its high-end shops where beans are roasted in-house and customers can watch the production process unfold before their eyes.
The company is expected to roll out more stores in Italy, but it has so far refrained from publicly revealing any roll-out targets.
It is estimated that 6 billion espressos are consumed every year in Italy, where the coffee culture is an integral part of society.