Last month, U.S. coffee chain Starbucks opened its first store in South Africa, with people thronging the branch in Johannesburg for their first try of the hit brews. The cafe in Rosebank, an upmarket part of the city, still experiences long queues more than a week after the launch.
With the impressive reception, founder and chief executive of Starbucks Howard Schultz said on Friday that the luxury brand plans to open up to 150 stores in South Africa. The initial plan, according to him was to invest about $9 million to open 12-15 stores in the country. This has changed.
“I think this market is going to be larger than we probably thought initially,” he said. “I’ve been to many Starbucks openings around the world, and I have never seen a line like this after a week of our opening. We’re off to a fantastic start.”
Schultz also said he was surprised by the “unaided awareness” of his company’s brand in South Africa. But South Africans are known to be brand conscious, hence the warm reception Starbucks received in Africa’s most advanced economy. More so, Johannesburg boasts a healthy black middle class with a bit more disposable income.
The menu of the U.S. coffee chain features the traditional Starbucks offerings, with prices adjusted to reflect South Africa’s economy.
But is Starbucks worth the hype? To those who thronged the store in Jo’burg, yes!
“I’ve been standing in the queue for 40 minutes, simply because I’m excited for the different varieties of coffee that we’ve never had in South Africa. I’ve never had Starbucks so I’m thrilled about this,”Lerato Mashiyane told Destiny Man, a South African magazine aimed at accomplished, stylish, affluent and self-assured South African men.
“I’ve been in the queue for 35 to 40 minutes. It’s such a recognised brand overseas, so I just wanted to be part of the brand experience,” Mpumumelo Mduye said.
To Nokwazi Buthelezi, having tasted Starbucks coffee before and enjoyed it, “I knew standing in the queue for an hour and a half would be absolutely worthwhile”.
Starbucks has already opened a second store in South Africa, joining several other top brands at the newly opened Mall of Africa in Johannesburg. The coffee chain entered South Africa under licence by business franchise management group Taste Holdings.
Many Africans expect Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve, to be Starbucks’ next market to enter in sub-Saharan Africa.