Coffee shop chain Starbucks is entering the Bulgarian market with plans to open its first shops there in 2008. The information was confirmed by DB Interconsult – Starbucks’ current consultant company in Bulgaria.
Starbucks will use Marinopoulos, the company which introduced French retailer Carrefour to the Bulgarian market, to introduce the brand. For now, Starbucks have set their sights on Sofia, but there is the possibility of expanding its chain in the bigger cities around Bulgaria. Currently Starbucks is looking for a team to run and develop the company in Bulgaria shop managers, HR managers, marketing specialists, real estate experts and a regional manager.
With Starbucks coming to Bulgaria, the competition between coffee chains would rise considerably, market representatives commented. Currently there are about 10 Bulgarian and foreign chains on the market. “The Bulgarian market is dynamic so I am not surprised it is attractive to a chain like Starbucks,” said Angel Balabanov, who runs Costa Coffee in Bulgaria, Starbucks’ biggest competitor in Europe. In a report into the coffee industry in Bulgaria, coffee was found to be the most popular hot beverage in the country, accounting for 90 per cent of all volume and value sales.
Despite this popularity the coffee shop market still remains relatively small compared to other outlets in the food service industry.
In 2004, Bulgaria had only 703 specialist coffee shops, a figure dwarfed in terms of the numbers of bars and pubs which stood at 22,748. This pattern is beginning to change however, with the number of coffee shop chains increasing all the time. The reason for the increase in the number of specialist coffee shops outlets was that these places became more popular as meeting places for young people and because the sub-sector was previously underdeveloped. Chained coffee shops still only account for a small percentage of the market with independent stores dominating the sector.
Starbucks entry into Russia was left perhaps too late to make a huge impact in an already congested market, but Bulgaria appears relatively underdeveloped in branded coffee outlets.