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July 17, 2014

Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

CHICAGO — Starbucks Corp.'s new three-story cafe in Bogota could be the type of location the coffee-shop chain's customers see more often.

"We are designing and opening flagship stores around the world," Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said in a phone interview from the South American city. Wednesday, the chain opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

"We are in a position to open the kind of stores that are similar to what Apple and Niketown have been able to do," he said. There's a new flagship location being planned for the United States, Schultz said, while declining to say where.

The Colombian store may serve as a blueprint for the world's biggest coffee-shop operator as it opens more enormous locations. The Bogota cafe makes use of locally sourced wood, antique- and hammered-brass light fixtures and sells Colombian- inspired food such as cheese sticks and croissants with a sauce similar to dulce de leche. The company declined to disclose how much the new store cost to build.

Starbucks plans to open about 1,500 new stores this fiscal year, including about 600 in its Americas region. Last year, the Seattle-based chain opened a 3,000-square-foot flagship store in Bengaluru, India, and two flagships in China. The two-story cafe in Beijing is decorated with mooncake molds, Chinese blue ceramics and has coffee bars on both levels.

In the U.S., Starbucks lists recently opened locations in New Orleans; Anaheim, California; and Orlando, Florida, as "high-design" cafes. There are more than 20,500 Starbucks locations in 65 countries, including about 740 stores in Latin America.

In 2002, Starbucks opened its first location in Mexico. Since then, the chain has expanded to Central and South American countries, including Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. Starbucks also is planning stores in Bolivia and Panama.

Brazil is a big growth market for Starbucks that may rival Mexico, which has more than 400 locations, Schultz said.

"It could easily be 500 stores in Brazil," he said.

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