MUMBAI — Starbucks, the world's largest coffee chain, which opened its 100th store here, expects India to be among its top five markets in the future.
"Starbucks operates in 28,000 stores across 75 markets in the world and India is one of the most important markets that we operate in. One day, India will be among the top five markets that Starbucks operates around the world," John Culver, group president, Starbucks International and Channel Development told reporters here.
"The reason we believe this is because of the success and the way in which Indian customers have embraced Starbucks."
"We are going to continue to invest in innovation. Our success in India could not be possible without the strong partnership that we have been able to build with Tata Global Beverages. It is a unique joint venture for Starbucks and one that sits at the top of all our partnerships we operate in around the world," he added.
The U.S. is the largest market for the Seattle-based company followed by Canada, China, Japan and U.K.
Starbucks has operated in India since October 2012 under a 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages and operates across six cities under the Tata-Starbucks label.
The global coffeehouse chain will enter Kolkata early next and plans to open three stores there.
"We are excited about the opportunity India presents for the future of Starbucks. Early next year, we will enter our seventh city in Kolkata, where we will have three new stores in early 2018 and will continue to grow our store base and look at new cities that we can add," he said.
Asked when the joint venture is expected to turn profitable, Culver said, "We are investing in India for the long-term. I would not put a time-frame around the financial metrics other than to say that what we are seeing in terms of financial performance of our stores based on the investments that we are making is that we are building a very strong foundation for growth here in this market. Through our partnership with Tata, we are taking a long-term view on the opportunity in India. We are very optimistic about the market."
Starbucks introduced the Teavana brand in India in January and Culver said they will continue to make investments in tea.
At present, coffee constitutes 60 percent of the beverages sold in the store while tea makes up around 10 percent.
The company expects to double the number of employees to 3,000 over the next five years and aims to boost the proportion of women in its workforce to 40 percent by 2022, from 25 percent today.
Starbucks has several joint initiatives in the country along with its joint venture partner, including expanding the market of Himalayan Mineral Water and providing job skills training.
"We partnered our JV partner Tata in their Strive program, which provides opportunities and skills to youth here in India. Starbucks here in India has a commitment that we will hire 3000 of those youth in the coming years in our business," he said.
Starbucks has launched Himalayan Mineral Water in Singapore a year ago and has launched the Tata Group's single-origin coffee in the U.S.
"We will continue to bring unique blends of coffee to India and will look at ways to expand coffee outside India," Culver said adding that last year the company launched India Estates blend in some Asian markets.