SÃO PAULO — Starbucks Coffee Co. has entered into an agreement with SouthRock, a multi-brand restaurant operator in Brazil, to license Starbucks retail operations in the country. Starbucks currently operates 113 stores in 17 cities across the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and the partnership with SouthRock will allow Starbucks to open more retail locations in Brazil, the company said.
“With Starbucks, we see continued opportunities for growth in existing markets like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as new markets like Brasilia and the South, and look forward to leveraging our local market capabilities to create even greater value for both Starbucks employees and customers,” said Ken Pope, founder and chief executive officer of SouthRock.
Founded in 2015, SouthRock owns and operates Brazil Airport Restaurants, a food and beverage service company operating in Brazil’s airports. Its license agreements include Starbucks and TGI Friday’s, along with other international brands.
SouthRock will continue Starbucks’ tradition of offering locally sourced Starbucks Brasil Blend coffee in all stores, the company said. Additionally, it plans to invest $1 million in social impact initiatives such as Starbucks Global Academy, a free online education platform for employees through Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University.
“We strongly believe this is the right time to leverage a strong local business partner like SouthRock as we pursue our ambitious, long-term growth agenda for Brazil,” said Ricardo Rico, general manager and vice-president for Starbucks licensed store operations, Latin America. “SouthRock has a solid track record of bringing unique retail experiences to customers in Brazil, creating meaningful opportunities for its employees and investing in the Brazilian economy. They are the ideal partner to take the Starbucks brand into the next phase of profitable growth in Brazil.”
With the ownership transition in Brazil, all Starbucks retail operations in Latin America and the Caribbean will become wholly licensed, Starbucks said.
“Much of Starbucks success in Latin America and the Caribbean has been due to our knowledge of when to rely on local and regional trusted licensing partners to grow the business,” Mr. Rico said. “For us, the right mix of ownership models — company owned, licensed or joint venture — has allowed us to remain focused on our biggest opportunities as we further accelerate growth across the globe, while always striving for the iconic Starbucks customer and partner experience. We are ready for this next phase of growth in Brazil and are proud to welcome SouthRock to our strong network of licensing partners in Latin America.”