Starbucks hopes to win over a nation of coffee lovers after announcing plans today to expand into Italy.
The Seattle-based coffee chain said it has signed a licensing deal with Italian entrepreneur Antonio Percassi to open stores in cities across the country, with the first cafe due to open in Milan in early 2017.
Percassi's eponymous firm operates several franchises and has overseen the expansion of several brands including Zara, Swatch and Calvin Klein, in Italy.
Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz claims it was a trip to Milan and Verona 33 years ago that inspired his idea for the coffee chain: "Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso. Everything that we’ve done sits on the foundation of those wonderful experiences that many of us have had in Italy, and we’ve aspired to be a respectful steward of that legacy for 45 years."
He said the first store will be designed with "painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture".