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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Starbucks Opens Its First Russian Cafe Next Month

VedomostiA view of Khimki's Mega mall, where the country's first Starbucks is to open.
Starbucks, the world's largest coffee-shop chain, will open its first cafe in Russia next month after a decade of delays that included losing trademark rights, company spokeswoman Kate Bovey said Thursday.

The first shop will open in September in the Mega mall north of Moscow, Bovey said by telephone from Seattle, where the company is based.

Starbucks joins retailers Wal-Mart and Carrefour in seeking to enter the country. Russians are expected to spend $12.5 billion eating out in 2009, after annual increases of more than 7 percent, according to Rosinter Restaurants Holding, which operates TGI Friday's and Benihana eateries.

"Russia is hugely important as a region, it's a primary market for us," Carol Pucik, spokeswoman for Starbucks, said Friday. "It gives a lot of opportunities. It has a large population, a coffee-drinking culture."

Starbucks first registered its trademark in Russia in 1997, the year before the government defaulted on $40 billion of domestic debt and devalued the ruble, wiping out the life savings of millions of people overnight.

Five years later, Starbucks lost the right to the brand after a Moscow lawyer who specializes in claiming unused trademarks succeeded in winning the rights to it from the state patents chamber. That ruling was overturned last year, after two years of litigation, said Yevgeny Arievich, a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie in Moscow who represented Starbucks.

The Mega mall store will make Russia the 43rd country in which Starbucks operates, Bovey said. The company recently opened stores in Brazil and Egypt and plans to enter India.

Starbucks' local partner in Russia is M.H. Alshaya, a Kuwaiti retailer that operates cafes in 10 countries outside its domestic market, Bovey said.

The U.S. coffee chain, which was started in 1971 and named for the coffee-loving first mate in the novel "Moby Dick," had 14,396 stores worldwide as of July 1. The company's long-term goal is for 40,000 cafes globally, half of them abroad.

The Mega mall in Khimki is operated by IKEA, the world's largest home-furniture seller. Anchor retailers include France's Auchan, Stockmann of Finland, and OBI Bau & Heimwerkermaerkte, a German home-improvement chain, said Oksana Belaychuk, spokeswoman for IKEA Russia.