Starbucks appears to fulfil all the characteristics of new-style multinational companies. The employees are all former customers and the management does not refer to them as ‘workers’ but as ‘partners’. The official phrase which is used to describe what makes the company different is not ‘coffee’ but ‘passion’ and the aim is for Starbucks to be a local business but without losing sight of the global aspect. Álvaro Salafranca seems convinced of what he says. Last week has was in Marbella to open a branch of Starbucks in El Corte Inglés in Puerto Banús. This is the company’s 87th coffee shop in Spain.
It has taken you a long time to come to Marbella.
The grass always looks greener on the other side. People always have the perception that we have arrived late, and I believe we do arrive late, in the sense that people are excited about us. In Andalucía we started in Seville, where we have opened four shops, and then we progressed from there. Marbella, and Puerto Banús, is somewhere that we knew we would have to be, but what happens is that the timing, the strategies and the priorities then have to be put into place.
The same perception exists in Malaga, because both Malaga and Marbella appear to be places where the customer model coincides with what I suppose a typical Starbucks client is.
We are a coffee shop and we fit in many places. Malaga and Marbella complain that we have taken our time, but Bilbao wants to know when we are going to open there, and they could say the same to us in Galicia, in the Canary Islands, in many places. We are demanded on the social networks everywhere. But we have to do it properly, look for the right opportunities, at the right time, and we want to do it with the care with which we do everything. We have experienced a period of general suffering, during which we have had to look after what we did have rather than what we didn’t have. Now we are more prepared to start to look for new places, because what we already had has been taken care of.
It is good for youthat this demand exists.
I have the perception that in Spain, Starbucks is a local brand. It is partly ours, it is not foreign. In the towns where we have had a presence for longer, we are now part of their history.
Does Starbucks operate through franchises?
No. Starbucks España is a Spanish company which manages all the coffee shops. We don’t licence anything, except for the ones in the airports which are managed by companies which specialise in airports.
But in this case there is an alliance with El Corte Inglés.
We have an excellent relationship with El Corte Inglés and we are involved in very specific synergies which are giving very good results. The one in Marbella is the fourth we have opened with them after Preciados and Pozuelos, in Madrid and Malaga.
What decides whether Starbucks opens in a shopping street in a town or, as in this case, in a commercial centre?
We want to be where our clients are. And we want to be there at any time that a client wants us. In leisure facilities, tourist areas, museums, shopping centres, places with a high density of traffic. It is not a closed option. What is important is to make it easy for the client to come to us.
Do you look for a homogenous clientele? Is a client in Malaga similar to one in Edinburgh?
We are all over the world. We are a global company which attends to a global clientele. Somebody who travels a great deal feels comfortable in any Starbucks in the world. Starbucks attends to this clientele, but when it is in Spain it seeks Spanish clients and gives them what they want. Coffee is the same the world over, but here we have café con leche, or we have molletes, with olive oil and salt or with ham. In a Starbucks in Edinburgh we are not going to give them molletes. Nor in London. Despite Starbucks being global, it also listens to local people. We combine the two worlds, the global and the local.
Where will your growth take you?
We are experiencing a time of growth and next year we will be opening new places and new markets, but we will continue to build here (in Marbella) and in Malaga.
Do you mean you will be opening new branches?
Yes. We will continue to open them. But there have to be opportunities and there has to be discipline. We have to have patience, to find the right place.
Courtesy: Sur in English
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