Starbucks Israel is laying off more than 20 employees, among them several who were trained at Starbucks main headquarters in the US with a view to becoming managers of new coffee shops due to be set up throughout the country within the next few years.

According to a report in Yediot Ahronot, the move taken by Starbucks Israel is the result of a significant decline in the number of people patronising the coffee shops, due to the hostilities in the region.

In addition, Starbucks decided recently to postpone the opening of its coffee shop in central Jerusalem, though it has already signed a contract to lease suitable premises. The report notes that Starbucks-Israel continues with its plans to open new branches in central Israel.

Since Starbucks entered the Israeli market in September 2001, it opened five branches, all in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan region. The franchise here is owned by Delek (80%), while Starbucks International holds 20% of the shares.

The report says that Starbucks Israel so far did not duplicate the success of Starbucks in the US, mainly due to the large number of local coffee shops, and the difference in taste preference for coffee. Starbucks was established 20 years ago, and is currently active in 22 countries operating 4,500 branches.

By Aaron Priel, correspondent