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Starbucks weighing market entry in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
A customer holds a Starbucks coffee drink.

International coffee chain Starbucks is weighing entry to the Jamaican market, likely through a franchise partner.

"We remain committed to expanding across the region and are currently evaluating multiple markets, including Jamaica, but we have no additional information to share at this time," said Alisha Damodaran, senior manager for corporate communications at Starbucks.

It suggests a deal is yet to be struck despite persistent talk locally that the first coffee house was imminent. However, it's also the first time Starbucks is confirming interest in Jamaica.

Starbucks currently has 42 stores across Aruba, The Bahamas, CuraÁao, Puerto Rico, and its newest market, Trinidad and Tobago, where a partnership was struck last year. Each market is operated by a licensed business partner, said Damodaran. In Trinidad, that partner is Prestige Holdings Limited, which opened its first store in San Fernando last August.

Starbucks already has a buying relationship with Jamaica for its exclusive line of reserve beans. The chain has been supplied with beans over the past seven years by local coffee producers such as Wallenford Estate and Amber Estate for consumption in North America and Asia.

"It continues to be a customer favourite here at our Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle and our Reserve bars in the US, Canada, China and Japan," said Damodaran via email.

Damodaran's comments follows information from separate sources in the coffee sector that the chain was showing interest in Jamaica. The sources said two separate operators within the hospitality sector are seeking to partner with the coffee chain on a franchise agreement, but both entities have denied negotiations.