As Starbucks Expands Into Sub-Saharan Africa, Still No Signs of Stores in Israel
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As Starbucks Expands Into Sub-Saharan Africa, Still No Signs of Stores in Israel

Closing Israeli stores was “the right decision for our business,” says the company.

Starbucks Corp. still has no plans to reopen Israeli branches of the famed coffee shop, but the company announced Tuesday that it will open its first South African chain next year in Johannesburg through Taste Holdings Ltd. A few stores already operate in Cairo and Casablanca, Morocco, but this will be their first attempt to break into South Africa’s coffee market.

Not every effort to reach customers overseas has been successful for the Seattle-based brand. In 2003, Starbucks dissolved its partnership with Israel due to “ongoing operational challenges,” according to a statement published on their website last year entitled “Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East.”

CEO Howard Schultz has been roasted by both Israel and BDS supporters in the past, the former claiming that he stopped doing business with Israel for political reasons and the latter claiming that he provides financial support to Israel and the IDF. The controversy, as well as calls to boycott from both sides, prompted the company to issue the statement and assert their neutrality as a publicly held company.

While Starbucks says the decision to duck out of the Israeli coffee scene was “the right decision for our business,” they continue to operate 2,600 other stores in the Middle East, Russia, and North Africa. They have also left their options open for a possible Israeli revival of their signature drinks sometime in the future, stating that “When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community.”

talia@jewishweek.org

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