Starbucks enters 15th Latin American market

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has entered its 15th Latin American market with the opening of its flagship store in Panama. Along with a licensing partner in Central America, the store in Panama City's Street Mall will be the coffee chain's 67th market worldwide.

The new store carries Panama Carmen Estate coffee, part of the company's exclusive Reserve collection of unique, small-batch coffees.

"We are proud to bring the Starbucks Experience to customers in Panama and build our brand in a way that honors the coffee passion and traditions inherent to this region," said Rich Nelsen, senior VP and general manager for Starbucks in Latin America, where the company now has more than 880 stores employing over 12,000 partners (employees).

The partner, Premium Restaurants of America, fist teamed up with Starbucks in 2010 for the opening of the first store in San Salvador. Since then, the team has opened 19 Starbucks stores, eights in El Salvador, five in Guatemala, five in Costa Rica and the one that just opened in Panama. The plan is to open at least 20 stores in Panama City over the next five years.

The 3,304-square-foot space contains highlights of the Starbucks journey from Seattle's Pike Place Market to Panama's coffee-growing regions in the Volcan Chiriqui Valley in a hand-painted mural on a locally sourced, wood-clad wall. The ceilings stretch 28 feet high and from them dangles a custom-made mobile, designed to represent the Geisha coffee plant. Images throughout display hand-painted depictions of Panama's coffee farms. In addition, Colombian furniture and wood-slated light fixtures from Brazil decorate the store.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced an ambitious expansion plan that included opening 8,000 new stores in the next five years, including 3,500 new stores in the Americas and the debut of a new smaller format in urban areas. As part of that goal, the coffee chain is opening stores in 15 low-to-medium income urban communities around the United States as a way to hire young people, ages 16 to 24, facing systemic barriers to jobs and education.

For more:
-See this Starbucks press release

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