Starbucks operator to restart expansion in Thailand

Ms Nednapa (left) and Sumonpin Jotikabukkana, director of marketing and communications, celebrate the 24th anniversary of Starbucks Thailand with the launch of Starbucks Refreshers.
    Ms Nednapa (left) and Sumonpin Jotikabukkana, director of marketing and communications, celebrate the 24th anniversary of Starbucks Thailand with the launch of Starbucks Refreshers.

US coffee giant Starbucks looks set to open 30 new coffee shops in Thailand per year from 2022-2024 to sustain its business growth in the country.

According to Nednapa Srisamai, managing director of Starbucks Thailand, the local operator of Starbucks, the company is ready to resume expansion this year following improving sales in the first half.

The company plans to open 30 new Starbucks coffee shops in 2022, the same level as before the pandemic, and maintain that number of launches over the next two years.

Ms Nednapa said the firm adapted to Covid-19 outbreaks by opening more drive-thru stores and launching innovative beverages in response to health trends.

The company also increased its channels on digital platforms. New services such as meeting rooms, which are now available at 50% of local Starbucks coffee shops, have been instrumental in luring more customers back to Starbucks, she said.

The company also designed its stores and products to enhance the Starbucks experience for customers, using diverse store formats and investing in digital to provide solutions to customers’ changing lifestyles, said Ms Nednapa.

Starbucks began its operations in Thailand by opening its first coffee shop in July 1998.

The company operates 444 Starbucks coffee shops via various formats, known as Reserve, drive-thru and original concept. It also provides services via its own commerce and third parties such as Shopee and Lazada.

“Starbucks is not only a coffee shop, but also a place for customers to spend their life,” she said. “The company has never stopped investing in the Thai market.”

Even during the pandemic from 2020 to 2021, the company kept opening its new coffee shops, with the number tallying 429 branches in 2021, up from 375 stores in 2019.

The company has already opened 15 new coffee shops this year, mainly at petrol stations and community malls, bringing the total number of branches up to 444 at present. The other 15 coffee shops will be opened in the second half of this year.

“Thailand is a strategic country for Starbucks in Asia Pacific, along with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It still has the potential to open more Starbucks [in Thailand] due to strong brand awareness. Thais have a lifestyle to drink coffee and Thailand is also one of the important tourist destinations,” she said.

According to Ms Nednapa, foreign tourists from the US, Europe and Singapore have already returned, but Chinese tourists who are normally major spenders have yet to return.

The firm strengthened its loyalty programme to connect with local consumers, she said.

In a related development, Ms Nednapa said due to the baht’s weakness, the firm’s operating costs have significantly increased, but she insisted the firm has tried its best to manage its costs by finding new sources of raw materials at better prices.

Source: bangkok post