Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Starbucks here for the long haul

Starbucks here for the long haul

Starbucks Cambodia General Manager Por Lim speaks to The Post at the company’s flagship branch in Phnom Penh.
Starbucks Cambodia General Manager Por Lim speaks to The Post at the company’s flagship branch in Phnom Penh. Kali Kotoski

Starbucks here for the long haul

US-based coffee giant Starbucks first entered the Cambodian market in 2015 with a small kiosk in Phnom Penh’s airport terminal. Since then it has expanded in the capital, while opening its first branch in Siem Reap last month. The Post’s Kali Kotoski sat down with Por Lim, general manager of Starbucks Cambodia, to discuss the company’s operations.

What was the initial customer response to Starbucks opening in Cambodia?
When we first opened in December 2015, our first customers were passengers travelling to other countries and tourist arrivals because of our location in the Phnom Penh International Airport. That really supported our brand and allowed us to begin expanding throughout Phnom Penh.

During the first few months of operations, there was a lot of interest from people wanting to learn more about the company. Of course they knew the brand name, but they didn’t know what the Starbucks experience was like.

Your second outlet was in Aeon Mall. How has it performed?
The Aeon Mall store helped us reach a broader customer base in the busy mall setting. When we came to Cambodia, we knew that we would open a few stores in the first couple years of operations. Our first store outside of the airport was supposed to be the BKK1 flagship store, but because of the time it took to renovate and construct on a former villa complex, we went to Aeon Mall first.

What is the purpose of a flagship store?
The BKK1 facility gives a huge footprint and is one of the largest Starbucks stores in all of Asean. We opened this store to cater to higher demand. Our general customer base comes from business people, young people and foreigners living and travelling through Phnom Penh. The BKK1 store gives customers a better atmosphere to relax and spend more time in. We also have a successful branch in TK Avenue and our newest one in Exchange Square.

How does Starbucks fit into Phnom Penh’s competitive coffee market?
It is hard for us to compare where we stand in the market because we just joined the market and only have a few stores while other coffee shops have been here for over 10 years. But what I can say is that we are in Cambodia for the long-term business potential and we want to continue to expand.

Starbucks has an international reputation for quality of service. Was it difficult to train and recruit staff to meet the company’s standards?
Because of the brand, we could easily recruit the number of staff that we need. And we are working very hard to make them store managers and coffee masters. This takes a lot of investment by the company to build those skills.

For a coffee master, they have to learn about the difference in preparing coffee and the different qualities of coffee beans. Plus, to become a coffee master, they have to be trained and pass the Starbucks test to be accredited. Overall, we currently employ a staff of 130.

How does your new branch in Siem Reap International Airport compare to the one in Phnom Penh’s airport?
The main difference is that it is open to the public, which is different from the one in Phnom Penh that was only accessible to those that had checked in and gone through the security procedures. The Siem Reap store is outside the check-in area of the airport with outside seating for more than 50 people. Total size of the store is 100 square metres, which similar to the size of our airport facility in Phnom Penh.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen says Kingdom not a 'satellite country'

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent diplomatic notes to various embassies demonstrating its stance and clarifying allegations that the Kingdom is a satellite country of China which will allow it exclusive access to the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. The response

  • Vast Prince Manor fun park opens to much fanfare in Kandal

    Chinese-owned Prince Culture and Development Co Ltd officially launched the $85 million Prince Manor entertainment centre in Kandal province on Wednesday. Prince Manor is located along National Road 1, 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is the first major theme park project in Cambodia and

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to