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Less than 400 meters separate the school where my mother teaches from a Starbucks: Worldwide Chief Executive

Just minutes away from Laxman Narasimhan’s humble abode in Pune stands the Starbucks Koregaon Park store, a stone’s throw from where his mother once imparted wisdom to young minds at a nearby primary school. Reflecting on his unexpected journey to the corner office of the iconic American coffeehouse chain, Narasimhan reminisced to TOI, “I had no idea I would even be leading Starbucks one day.”

Under Narasimhan’s stewardship, Starbucks is poised to broaden its footprint across India. With plans to unveil a new store every three days, the company aims to reach a staggering 1,000 outlets by 2028. Currently boasting 390 locations, Starbucks operates in India through an equal joint venture with Tata Consumer Products.

Transitioning from roles at PepsiCo and Reckitt, Narasimhan acknowledges the weight of filling the shoes of Howard Schultz, who transformed Starbucks from a local Seattle haunt into a global powerhouse. “Following an iconic founder, I learned a lot from Howard Schultz. My team and I are carving out a new path forward,” Narasimhan remarked. “Our greatest challenge is to consistently improve partner experiences and the brand in order to exceed customer expectations.”

India’s vibrant landscape has captivated numerous global brands, drawn by its youthful demographic and burgeoning purchasing power. “Returning to India as the CEO of Starbucks has provided a ringside view of the rapid transformation the country has undergone,” Narasimhan noted. “The infrastructure development, burgeoning consumer base, and widespread adoption of technology present a golden opportunity for bolstering Starbucks’ position as the quintessential ‘third place.'”

While Starbucks enjoys adoration in India, the market landscape grows increasingly competitive, especially with the discerning tastes of Gen Z and millennials. Narasimhan emphasized Starbucks’ commitment to doubling down on investments in product innovation, store experience, and digitization to stay ahead of the curve.

Acknowledging the evolving preferences of Indian consumers, Narasimhan emphasized Starbucks’ dedication to introducing new and localized offerings that resonate with local tastes and cultural dynamics. “Coffee in India isn’t just a beverage; it’s a dynamic social experience steeped in human connection,” he expressed.

Looking ahead, Starbucks aims to leverage its existing presence to cater to customers with purpose-defined stores and accelerated renovations. Narasimhan emphasized the company’s intention to aggressively penetrate tier two and three cities, tapping into a diverse consumer base eager to explore new brands.

As Starbucks continues to chart its course in India, Narasimhan remains resolute in the company’s long-term commitment. “Our winning strategy remains consistent – fostering moments of human connection with our customers,” he concluded.

Sadhna B

Sadhna B

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