Starbucks Coffee International (SCI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based coffeehouse giant Starbucks Coffee Company, entered into the Latin American market last week, with the opening of its first store in Avenida Reforma, Mexico City.

Starbucks said that it plans to open another 10 to 15 stores in the next 12 to 18 months, working with its local joint venture partner, SC de Mexico, an affiliate of Mexican restaurant operator and foodservice distribution firm Alsea. Starbucks and SC de Mexico signed a joint venture agreement to open Starbucks stores in Mexico in February this year. The joint venture, Cafe Sirena, is responsible for managing the operations in the market.

"Our store opening in Mexico City represents a significant milestone for Starbucks in its goal towards building a global brand," said Howard Schultz, chairman and chief global strategist, Starbucks Coffee Co. "We believe Mexico, which represents a major Latin American market, will serve as the springboard for Starbucks strategic expansion into the rest of the region.

Following the opening of the first Starbucks store, Cafe Sirena plans to eventually open stores in different locations throughout Mexico City.

In addition to Mexico, Starbucks will be opening its first store in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week and is actively exploring opportunities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Julio Gutierrez, president of Latin America, SCI: "In addition to the huge retail opportunities that Mexico offers Starbucks, we are very proud of our relationships with coffee producers across several states in Mexico."

Alberto Torrado, chairman of Alsea, added: "Coupled with the strong retail experience of Alsea and the Starbucks brand equity worldwide, I am confident that Starbucks will enjoy the same success in Mexico City as it has in other countries.

"I am also very excited about the market opportunity for Starbucks in Mexico," added Torrado. "We plan to open at least 100 Starbucks stores in the next few years, creating more than 2,000 jobs."