Starbucks partners with Italian bakery

by Eric Schroeder
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Princi Italian Bakery, Starbucks
Princi’s products include croissants, baked cakes, pizzas, sandwiches and lasagna.

SEATTLE — Starbucks Corp. has partnered with Princi, a high-end Italian bakery and cafe founded by Rocco Princi in 1986. As part of its investment, Starbucks will focus on developing and operating new Princi locations outside of Italy, as well as offering Princi’s baked foods in its new specialty coffee shops, including the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Rooms in Shanghai and New York. The Shanghai and New York Roastery locations are on track to open in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Howard Schultz, chairman and c.e.o. of Starbucks

“We have never baked in our stores in 45 years,” said Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “But all of that will change with the creation of this unique partnership. Rocco and his team at Princi possess a passion for handcrafted food and artisanal baked goods that mirrors how I feel about our coffee. The attention to detail, the care invested in selecting the ingredients and the artistry of preparation are second only to the service Rocco offers customers inside his Princi stores. I can think of no better pairing for our most premium coffee experience and am excited by the possibilities we envision in Princi food elevating every daypart — breakfast, lunch and dinner — in Starbucks Roasteries and Reserve Stores.”

Princi locations are known for their twenty four hours of operation, offering customers everything from light breakfast to dinners from an “always-on” beechwood-fired oven. Princi’s products include croissants, baked cakes, pizzas, sandwiches and lasagna.

Rocco Princi, Princi, Starbucks
Rocco Princi, founder of Princi

“As a young man, I dreamed of the opportunity to bring traditional Italian baking to customers in my country but when I opened our location in London, I realized how much we could also offer an international clientele,” said Mr. Princi, founder of Princi Restaurant. “I have long admired Starbucks, the values Howard has imbedded into his organization and we are honored to be a part of bringing to life an entirely new retail environment with the Roasteries.”

In addition to the expansion of standalone Princi specialty stores and inclusion of fresh baking in Starbucks Roasteries, the company will partner with Mr. Princi to bring a premium food experience to its new Reserve-only stores starting in 2017. Starbucks plans to open the first U.S. Princi store next year in Seattle.

Princi Italian Bakery, Starbucks
Princi locations are known for their twenty four hours of operation.

Starbucks has sought to increase its revenue from food for a number of years. In 2012, the company acquired Bay Bread L.L.C. for $100 million, a move that allowed Starbucks to sell La Boulange baked foods in its coffee shops. In June 2015, Starbucks closed all 23 La Boulange retail bakeries and the two manufacturing plants that supported the retail locations. The company said that based on its evaluation the La Boulange operations were not sustainable to the company’s long-term growth. La Boulange branded food products are still sold in Starbucks retail locations, though.

Since the acquisition of La Boulange, Starbucks has reinvented its food portfolio at more than 14,000 stores in the United States and Canada, and will continue to bring customers authentic French homemade specialties. Currently, Starbucks has nearly 24,000 stores worldwide and offers Reserve coffee in nearly 2,000 locations in 30 countries.
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