The coffee giant’s MENA franchise partner Alshaya Group says it has ‘big ambitions’ to accelerate outlet growth in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East
The Jeddah Park store adds to three existing Starbucks Reserve stores in the capital city Riyadh | Photo credit: Alshaya Group
Starbucks has opened its 400th store in Saudi Arabia with a Reserve outlet in Jeddah Park.
The Jeddah Park store joins three Reserve stores in the capital city Riyadh. The higher-end sites offer Starbucks’ super-premium coffee menu and cater to Saudi Arabia’s growing specialty coffee scene, where international boutique brands, such as EL&N, % Arabica and Café Kitsuné, have recently gained footholds.
Seattle-based Starbucks first partnered with local franchisee Alshaya Group in 1999 to open stores in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and opened its first Saudi Arabian store in Riyadh the following year.
The Kuwait-based conglomerate operates Starbucks outlets across ten MENA markets, including the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco.
In a press release, Alshaya Group said it has been investing heavily in new Starbucks stores and its staff in line with Saudi Vision 2030, a government framework seeking to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, promote the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality industries and improve employment opportunities for women.
Alshaya Group said its regional recruitment plan is centred on ‘nationalisation, empowerment and increased diversity of women in the workplace’. Women currently represent more than half of Starbucks’ workforce in Saudi Arabia, with the coffee giant opening its first all-female operated drive-thru outlet in the country in June 2022.
“We are proud to mark the opening of 400 Starbucks stores in the Kingdom. Reaching this milestone is a testament to our unmatched coffee expertise, commitment to bringing bold new beverage innovations to Arab coffee lovers and evolving our dynamic store concepts to meet our customers’ needs where they are. We have big ambitions to continue our accelerated growth in the Middle East, and this will be driven primarily through our ongoing investment in the recruitment, development and empowerment of young national talent,” said Andy Holmes, President of Starbucks – Alshaya Group.
Saudi Arabia is Starbucks’ largest market in the MENA region, ahead of the UAE and Kuwait.
The Seattle-based coffee chain is the third largest coffee chain in Saudi Arabia’s circa-3,550-store branded coffee shop market after fellow US brand Dunkin’ and domestic operator Barns, which operate more than 600 and 500 stores respectively.
World Coffee Portal research shows 62% of Saudi Arabian coffee shop visitors surveyed in 2022 believe western chains have positively influenced the local coffee culture, which is reflected in Starbucks’ popularity among customers.
The coffee chain is perceived favourably by 78% of Saudi Arabian consumers surveyed and is the most frequently visited coffee shop chain (54%), significantly ahead of Dunkin’ (13%) and Barn’s (10%).
Saudi Arabia’s branded coffee shop market is projected to reach 5,350 outlets by 2027.