Starbucks has named a new chief executive for its joint venture in India, saying the coffeehouse chain’s first unit is scheduled to open in Mumbai by the end of October.
The Seattle-based coffeehouse chain said Thursday that Avani Saglani Davda has been named CEO of Tata Starbucks Ltd., a 50/50 partnership between Starbucks and Tata Global Beverages Ltd., a beverage conglomerate that is also the world’s second-largest tea company, known for brands such as Tata Tea, Tetley and Eight O’ Clock Coffee.
A 10-year veteran of the Tata companies, Davda was most recently worked in the vice chair’s office for Tata Global Beverages, where she played a pivotal role in developing the partnership with Starbucks, as the coffeehouse chain prepared to bring its brand to India.
Starbucks has previously indicated that more than 50 coffeehouse locations were planned for India before the end of the year, though the first opening has been delayed from the initial target date of August.
Tata Starbucks Ltd. will own and operate Starbucks cafes in India, the company said. The goal is to supply stores there with locally sourced and roasted coffee beans, which Starbucks contends will offer a truly authentic experience. Through subsidiary Tata Coffee, the company is also the largest coffee plantation owner in Asia and is the country’s second-largest importer of instant coffee.
“We are delighted to be able to announce our progress toward opening our first store in India and to introduce locally sourced espresso,” said John Culver, president, Starbucks China and Asia Pacific. “Being able to use the highest quality espresso, sourced and roasted in India, is an important part of delivering a locally relevant experience to our customers in the market.”
Tea is the dominant beverage in India, but that’s also true in China, where Starbucks has about 800 locations and is on track to reach 1,500 by 2015. Starbucks has estimated 600 international locations will open before the end of 2012, about 25 percent of which will be in China.
Starbucks is not the only company looking to tap into India’s massive population and growing interest in Western brands. Dunkin’ Donuts opened its first location in New Delhi earlier this year, and McDonald’s, Yum! Brands Inc., and frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry are among the U.S. restaurant brands with ambitious goals for growth in India.