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International coffee chain Starbucks has entered an agreement with Caribbean Coffee Traders Ltd to open its first café in Jamaica, in a move that is likely to shake up the existing local coffee shop market.Under the agreement, Caribbean Coffee Traders Ltd which is a consortium led by the Margaritaville Caribbean Group, will have exclusive rights to own and operate stores on the island, with the first store to be opened in Montego Bay.

According to Starbuck’s website, the operation will be a joint venture between CEO of Margaritaville Caribbean Group, Ian Dear, and Deputy Chairman and CEO of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart.

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Jamaica will be the 17th market in the Latin American and Caribbean region in which Starbucks will operate.

“Jamaica is a country blessed with a rich culture and heritage, particularly with its locally grown and world-renowned Blue Mountain coffee, which Starbucks has sourced as a specialty offering for over 40 years,” said Ricardo Rico, Starbucks general manager and vice president for Latin America operations.

“We are delighted to build on this legacy and continue our expansion into the Caribbean by introducing the Starbucks Experience in Jamaica for the first time. As we position the brand for continued growth, we are proud to add Caribbean Coffee Traders to our strong network of licensing partners and leverage their proven market capabilities to reach new customers.

Margaritaville Caribbean Group’s portfolio of brands includes Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza and Cinnabon.

“We are thrilled to welcome Starbucks, a globally recognised brand, to Jamaica. Leveraging our knowledge of the local market, we will deliver upon the Starbucks Experience and create a global platform for Jamaica’s locally grown Blue Mountain coffee,” said Dear.

“Our organisations share similar values, including our dedication to the customer experience, commitment to our crew members, and responsible corporate citizenship.”

Starbucks currently has 42 stores across Aruba, The Bahamas, Curacao, Puerto Rico, and its newest market, Trinidad and Tobago. Starbucks struck a deal with Prestige Holdings Limited in Trinidad last year which saw the opening of its first store in San Fernando, one of the most populous cities in Trinidad.

The coffee chain already has a relationship with Jamaica for its exclusive line of reserve beans, which it has been purchasing over the past seven years from local coffee producers such as Wallenford Estate and Amber Estate.

The beans were supplied for consumption in North America and Asia. According to Starbucks, it continues to be a customer favourite at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle and the reserve bars in the US, Canada, China and Japan.

Existing coffee shops in Jamaica include the Café Blue with six stores including at both main international airports, Cannonball Café chain with four stores across Kingston, Rituals Coffee House and Tastee’s Brew’d Awakenings.

In comparison, the New York Stock Exchange-listed Starbucks Coffee Company — which started in Seattle, Washington, in 1971 — now has more than 25,000 stores around the globe.

— Karena Bennett

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