Monday, 25 February 2019

Starbucks Confirms: "We Do Not Have Plans to Open in Croatia"

Nine years ago, coffee lovers in Croatia were teased with the news that Starbucks, a favorite franchise around the world, would open in the Zagreb Arena. Last week, Croatians were taunted by reports once again. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Starbucks Rumored in Croatia Again: Is the Coffee Chain Coming to Zagreb?

In recent business circles, unofficial information has emerged that Starbucks, one of the world's most famous coffee chains, is finally coming to Croatia. More specifically, the chain is said to be coming to the shopping center in the popular Cvjetni Trg in Zagreb, which the Austrian Supernova company took over from the entrepreneur Tomislav Horvatinčić, reports on February 19, 2019. 

Although Horvatinčić, or his company Hoto, sold the complex in the center to the Austrian company, he kept the underground garages at the location and remained as a leaseholder for the My Way restaurant, which opened in 2016.

Allegedly, the My Way restaurant in the center is due to close in March and is precisely where the new Starbucks could settle. 

Blažena Lokin, a spokesperson for Supernova, confirmed at least that much. 

“At this point, we are not able to confirm, nor reject the possibility of the arrival of that particular or any other tenant in that space. I can officially confirm that the Supernova Group and the Hoto Cvjetni company have terminated the Lease Agreement in connection with the restaurant My Way,” said Lokin.

Lokin added that Supernova is currently talking with major foreign brands for the space and that they desire to bring Croatia “something that we still do not have, something different."

The unofficial news about the arrival of Starbucks in Croatia began to circulate after it was announced that one would open in Serbia as well, at the Rajićeva Shopping Center, in the first half of this year. 

Since AmRest is the Starbucks representative in Serbia and has opened around 300 Starbucks cafes across Europe, they were consulted for information about the potential of a Zagreb branch.

“The arrival of Starbucks in Serbia was confirmed in November, but as far as our representation in Croatia is concerned, we can only comment at this point that we cannot comment,” said Krunoslav Stančić from the AmRest marketing department, who also represents the American fast-food chain KFC.

Aleksandar Erceg, head of the Center for Franchise at the Center for Entrepreneurship in Osijek, revealed that a group of Croatians interested in bringing Starbucks tried this less than a year ago.

“There are only a handful of people in Croatia who can finance such a large company as Starbucks,” Erceg said, adding that Starbucks is interesting for Zagreb, but that only one location for them is not marketable.

Denis Ćupić, chairman of the Westgate shopping center's property management department, agrees.

“I’m not optimistic. External franchises work, but not with us. See Burger King or KFC. If you do not have at least ten outlets, do not waste your time,” said Ćupić, citing Borislav Škegra's example and failed attempts to establish Subway, an American sandwich bar that had to close the doors of all six outlets in 2009.

To confirm the unofficial news, also contacted Starbucks Austria, which is in charge of Central Europe, though they were unable to get an immediate answer.

Otherwise, the first announcements of Starbucks coming to Croatia circulated back in 2010, and then, the first cafe was to open at Arena Center. However, the plans were suddenly withdrawn because Croatians, known for taking their time while drinking coffee, were not ready to accept the "coffee-to-go" culture. 

This culture also encouraged the British coffee franchise Costa Coffee, which opened its first cafe in Split in 2008, followed by two more in Zagreb, though all of them closed a few months later.

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