There was a media frenzy surrounding the opening of the Czech Republic’s first Starbucks on Friday. In its new branch on Prague’s Malostranské náměstí, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain promises to ‘enrich people’s lives, one cup of coffee at a time’. It remains to be seen whether Starbucks will live up to its promise, and attract Czechs to pay more than the average for a mug of premium coffee. There’s certainly been a lot of anticipation leading up to Starbucks’ arrival, but will it prove to have been anything more than a storm in a coffee cup? I met the President of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, Cliff Burrows, in the run up to the opening. My first question was why the chain had decided to open here and now:
“Well, we’ve always been excited about the potential of bringing Starbucks to the Czech market. And we’re absolutely delighted that now is the right time. We have the right opportunity with this marvellous store here in the heart of Prague.”
Maybe Starbucks coffee might be slightly more expensive than a cup of coffee in a normal Czech café, so what sort of clients are you aiming to attract here?
“Well, becoming a part of a local community is really important for us. And our experience around the world is that people appreciate the quality coffee – the 100% Arabica coffee – which we bring. They recognize that it is a premium product, and they are prepared to pay a premium price for it. And we’ve found that over time, we have become accessible to all members of the community. Some people use us every day, some people use us from time to time. And in a location such as this – in the centre of Prague – obviously, there will be people who know Starbucks from all over the world, and I’m sure will pop in for a cup of coffee.”
About fitting into the local community, are there any particular products on sale here that you won’t find anywhere else? Have you tailored this branch of Starbucks to a particularly Czech clientele?
“Starbucks as a global brand really does try and bring a consistency of product offer. There’s a choice of more than 87,000 products that you can chose from in terms of beverages. And we find that people around the glove prefer that. Often, people customize in different ways, people prefer sweeter products like vanilla lattes in some parts of the world, and low fat caramel macchiatos in other parts. With regard to the food range, we tend to customize that.”
So what sort of food can we expect in this branch then?
“Very often people come to us for the signature products such as blueberry muffins and espresso brownies, which are now signature products for us around the world. With lunchtime, people tend to like their own breads, so there are tomato breads here, and there’s that mix of different types of hams, different types of chickens, and there a mixture there of traditional favourites from the Czech market, and also some modern trends on wellness. So low-fat, low-calorie products as well.”
Is this the first of many stores in the Czech Republic?
“We’re excited about the potential. This is our first one, and we’re really focused today on this opening of this store. We don’t set specific targets, because we really open one store at a time. But we do hope to have more stores open in the coming months.”
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