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Leaning on pizzas to make Starbucks an SA reality

Jul 15 2015 07:35
Carin Smith

Carlo Gonzaga, CEO of Taste Holdings (Supplied)

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Last Updated: 01/01/0001 at 12:00. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Cape Town -The JSE-listed holding company that has secured a deal to bring Starbucks to South Africa will leverage its existing resources like real estate and supply chain - it has three pizza brands - to ensure the coffee sensation is a success.

That's according to Taste Holdings [JSE:TAS] CEO Carlo Gonzaga, who spoke to Fin24 after the deal was announced.

The announcement was greeted with a jump in Taste's share price by almost 20% to R5 on the JSE on Tuesday, which Gonzaga said was most likely due to the Starbucks news.

Taste is better known for its pizza brands such as Scooters Pizza and St Elmo's, and recently introduced Dominos Pizza to South African consumers. It has several other well-known brands too.

Gonzaga said while there were ways to leverage those existing resources, Starbucks will remain a stand-alone brand with independent marketing.

READ: Starbucks is finally coming to South Africa

Gonzaga said Taste has wanted to bring the iconic American coffee brand to SA for a while and it took a reasonable period of time to get to an agreement.

"Apart from the growing coffee market in SA - both in general as well as for premium coffee - Taste and Starbucks have a shared set of partnership values," said Gonzaga.

"We will introduce the Starbucks experience to South Africans - premium coffee - and we want to create a preferred place for people to go and connect with each other."

He thinks the growth in the coffee culture in SA could be partly due to the aspirational element to premium coffee.

According to Gonzaga the focus will at first be on establishing the brand in South Africa, but in time it might lead to a natural growth beyond the country's borders.

"Initially we will probably start in Gauteng and then go where our customers want us to go. We think there is quite a big space to grow the market," said Gonzaga.

"We want to start the first stores with a strong base of skills sets. For instance, we must send our baristas for three months of training. That is quite significant training to have to do to ensure the skills set."

"By having the right skills we will grow the affinity among South Africans to try our coffee," said Gonzaga.

Last year Taste obtained the SA licence for Domino's Pizza.

ALSO READ: Starbucks steps into conversation about race

starbucks  |  taste holdings  |  coffee  |  retail


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