On a recent afternoon in Milan, all four floors of the flagship store of the Italian chain Arnold Coffee were jammed with university students and young professionals wired into laptops, tablets and smartphones. Most were sipping from plastic cups embossed with the chainâ€™s motto: â€śThe American Coffee Experience.â€ť
Alfio Bardolla, the businessman who founded the Arnold chain, expects Starbucks to be successful in Italy because â€śthe market is there, juice bars and coffee houses are growing.â€ť In an interview at his flagship coffee shop, a couple of blocks from the cityâ€™s landmark cathedral, Il Duomo, Bardolla said he was confident about his business prospects. His company is planning to expand the chain from the current four stores to about 30 in the next three years and to go public in 2018.
â€śEverybody wants a different type of coffee now in Italy, plus traditional Italian bars tend to kick people out after 15 minutes,â€ť he said. The biggest challenge facing Starbucks, he says, will be dealing with Italian bureaucracy, citing his own struggles over permits and locations. â€śItâ€™s probably easier for Starbucks to open 500 outlets in China than a few in Italy.â€ť