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World's largest Starbucks store to open in China

06 December 2017
World's largest Starbucks store to open in China

Starbucks on Wednesday, Dec. 6 is opening its biggest cafe in the world in Shanghai. Without a drop of irony, founder Howard Schultz refers to it as a "coffee wonderland".

The first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room outside the United States opened in Shanghai Tuesday. There's a two-story copper cask, a European-style bakery and augmented reality experiences sprinkled throughout, powered with tech from China's Alibaba Group.

Even though Chinese are traditionally tea guzzlers and less hooked on coffee than Americans, the country's growing ranks of upwardly mobile consumers still view Starbucks as an attractive, aspirational brand.

The Starbucks Foundation and Starbucks China plan to make charitable donations totaling about $20 million, or 132 million yuan, over the next five years to drive social impact in communities across China. Last quarter, China posted an 8 percent increase, compared with a 3 percent gain in the USA, excluding impacts from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. There are 3,000 Starbucks in China now.

DIGITAL: The Shanghai Roastery is the first Starbucks location to seamlessly integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience.

China is Starbucks' fastest-growing market (it has 3,000 stores with a new shop opening every 15 hours) and the new space is an investment in the future of retail.

The U.S. -based coffee chain has seen China as a key market, where sales grew seven percent versus a three percent growth in the rest of the world in the past year, according to a company statement. Five other sites for the specialty Starbucks brand are planned around the world, including two more USA locations, one in Japan one in Italy, according to the company.

Located on Nanjing Road West, the city's most famous shopping street, the 30,000 sq ft store will offer customers a high-end experience and will include a "Reserve roastery" which will allow customers to watch beans being roasted. There are also various coffee and tea bars, plus wine and craft beer for sale. Customers can point their smartphones around the roastery for an augmented reality experience.