US coffee giant Starbucks has introduced its first Asia-Pacific concept store in Bangkok, a strategic move to respond to customer demand.
Starbucks Reserve Bar flagship store opened in late May on the ground floor of CentralWorld shopping complex at Ratchaprasong intersection.
The new Starbucks store features a Starbucks Reserve Bar for the first time in Asia, with Starbucks Draft beverages infused with nitrogen.
Starbucks CentralWorld is Thailand’s largest Reserve Bar store, consisting of a Starbucks traditional coffee bar and the Starbucks Reserve Bar, which invites customers to deepen their coffee knowledge.
Featuring the Black Eagle espresso machine for unique, espresso-forward drinks and various brewing methods such as Siphon, Chemex and Pour Over, customers can taste Starbucks Reserve small-lot coffees for a premium coffee experience.
These coffees are specially crafted by Starbucks Coffee Master employees whose passion and knowledge of coffee is highlighted by their black aprons.
Nednapa Srisamai, the company’s country managing director, said Thailand was chosen at the first Asia-Pacific nation for the new concept store for several reasons: Starbucks is widely recognised among Thai coffee drinkers, and the penetration rate of premium coffee in Thailand is still small when compared with consumption of regular instant coffee.
Moreover, Thailand is a tourist destination with more than 30 million arrivals a year.
The 760-square-metre store has more than 230 seats and two large rooms designed to host community events or small gatherings.
Starbucks opened its doors in Thailand in 1998 with the Chidlom location, and now there are 335 stores nationwide. Of the total, 60% are in retail complexes and the rest are in hospitals, petrol stations and drive-through structures.
“Coffee business continues to grow in the first half of this year,” said Sumonpin Jotikabukkana, Starbucks Thailand’s marketing and communications director. “Our sales have increased by a double-digit rate because we continue opening new coffee stores, while spending of consumers is higher and consumers make more frequent visits to our stores.”
The company opened 30-40 new Starbucks stores a year for the past few years, and this rate will continue as the chain aims to raise the number of branches to 600 by 2022.
The executives declined to reveal precise investment budgets.
Thailand’s overall coffee market amounts to 18 billion baht a year, 1.2 billion baht of which is in the premium coffee segment.
In Thailand, yearly coffee consumption per capita is 250 cups, compared with 400 in Japan and over 400 in Britain.
By Pitsinee JitpleecheepPosition, Bangkok Post, Thailand
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