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Starbucks enters mix at Aeon Mall

A barista serves customers at the grand opening of the new Starbucks outlet outside Aeon Mall in Phnom Penh.
A barista serves customers at the grand opening of the new Starbucks outlet outside Aeon Mall in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Starbucks enters mix at Aeon Mall

The American coffee franchise giant Starbucks opened its second outlet in Cambodia at Aeon Mall yesterday.

Locally licenced as Coffee Concepts Cambodia Ltd, this opening comes less than six months after its first store made its debut at the Phnom Penh International Airport last December.

While the first launch caused much fanfare, the Aeon location marks the first publicly accessible location. “Since our first store is in the airport terminal, all the people from outside could not get in,” said Por Lim, Starbucks' general manager.

Despite its limited access, he said Starbucks has grown in reputation over the past several months, cementing the brand and assuring long-term investment.

The next Starbucks location is scheduled to open in October in the heavily saturated cafe mecca of the Boeung Keng Kang district of Phnom Penh. Further expansions are dependent on brand pick-up, he said.

Daniel Li, a local retail expert, predicts that the new Starbucks will mostly attract teenagers and young adults and that its unique hours of 7am until 10pm could attract a different crowd.

However, Li said that Starbucks’s high prices and location at an al fresco area right outside of the mall could be a disadvantage in the long run.

“[By] being right outside of the mall it doesn’t really get the [same] flow of traffic,” he said, adding that people will need to make an effort to go to Starbucks.

He also said that, unlike cafes in Phnom Penh that double as a workspace, the new Starbucks does not have a large seating area.

This feature is what the store manager of the nearby Costa Coffee in Aeon said makes his franchise stand out.

“Costa Coffee is more of a sit-down place where you can work, while Starbucks is more of a takeaway cup,” he said. “Also, since we are inside of the mall, the customers walk around and see Costa here.”

Sokun El, one of the hundreds of customers that waited hours in line at Starbucks’ grand opening yesterday, said that due to the international recognition, taste and service, he would be a returning customer.

“I think that Starbucks is the best. In other coffee shops [in Phnom Penh] the service is slow and the drinks are not as good,” he said.

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