Starbucks expecting huge crowds at opening of biggest ever store, in Shanghai on Wednesday

With queuing barriers in place, the new outlet will have 400 employees able to serve up to 550 people at a time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 6:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 8:33am

Coffee giant Starbucks will open its biggest outlet ever on Wednesday, in Shanghai – and the company is expecting bumper crowds to enjoy the experience of being among the first to enjoy the giant 30,000-square-foot store.

The “Starbucks Reserve Roastery” is on Nanjing Road West, the city’s most-famous shopping street, and has been hotly promoted for months on social media.

It will be the second of its kind worldwide, offering customers the chance to actually watch coffee beans being roasted live in-store and via an augmented reality (AR) digital app..

On offer will be around 80 new coffee and tea products unique to the store and dominating the new Roastery will be a two-story copper roasting cask adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops, or stamps, narrating the story of Starbucks and coffee.

It will also host the Teavana Bar – its first outlet in China specifically offering a range of Chinese teas.

“The affinity we have built with our partners and customers over the past 18 years in China is special and we knew we must bring the Reserve Roastery, our boldest, most premium store ever, to Shanghai,” said its founder and chairman, Howard Schultz.

Here’s what Starbucks’ new Roastery in Shanghai looks like

Starbucks is partnering with Alibaba Group, owner of the South China Morning Post, to create what it is calling its “immersive AR experience” for customers, run on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping app, which allows, for instance, digital menus and ordering, insights into its brewing methods, and merchandising.

The Roastery will have 400 employees who can serve up to 550 people at a time, the company claims.

It has been planning the grand opening carefully together with the local police and will have queuing barriers in place to manage orderly serving when it opens at 7am, to what’s expected to be a huge crowd, said one official.

In the run up, the Starbucks publicity machine has been in overdrive, hitting social media sites and chat rooms with news and details of he launch. There are fears among some users it could take three hours to get serviced when its doors first open

Starbucks claims China is now its fastest-growing market worldwide with 3,000 stores at present, with the country being tipped by its chief executive, Kevin Johnson to become the Seattle-based firm’s biggest market within a decade.

Starbucks’ same-store sales in China rose 8 per cent during the most recent quarter, beating its global 2 per cent growth. The company announced plans in July to buy out its partners in its Each China joint venture, for US$1.3 billion.