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COURTESY PHOTO - Starbucks plans to open a new store in Milan, Italy, in early 2017. The company announced Feb. 29 a partnership with Percassi to establish the Seattle brand in the Land of Coffee.Seattle’s Starbucks Coffee Co. is venturing into the Land of Coffee with plans to open its first store in Italy early next year.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chairman and chief executive officer, said Monday that Italian company Percassi will own and operate the Starbucks stores in Italy. Percassi manages a portfolio of trademarks, including Kiko Milano, Madina, Womo and Bullfrog in cosmetics, Vergelio in footwear, Atalanta in sports, Da 30Polenta in food services.

Thirty-three years ago, Schultz was inspired by the coffee-making talents of an Italian barista during a business trip to Milan and Verona. Schultz said his vision for today’s Starbucks was shaped during that trip.

“Starbucks’ history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso,” Schultz said in the Feb. 29 announcement. “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. Now we’re going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we’ve been doing and what we’ve learned through our first retail presence in Italy.”

Starbucks and Percassi plan to open coffee shops in several cities, beginning with its first store in Milan.

“We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy, the country of coffee, and we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets,” said Antonio Percassi, president of Percassi.

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