Italian coffee company has grand expansion plans for China

Updated: 2012-10-08 16:53

By Chen Qide (

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Italian coffee company Saicaf will invest more than 100 million yuan ($15.9 million) to set up a network of cafes across China within four years.

"About 100 cafes are expected to open to serve local customers with Italy's refined coffee lifestyle," said Horace Cheng, chairman of So Caffe (Shanghai) Co Ltd.

Saicaf, set up in Bari, Italy in 1932, is one of the top 10 coffee suppliers in Italy and was the first producer to introduce automatic coffee makers to the country.

Today, Saicaf sells five million kilograms of roasted coffee globally each year.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Asia Jumbo Ltd and under the sole authorization of Saicaf SPA, launched its flagship shop in Shanghai, also its first in Asia, at the end of last month as part of a strategy to expand its business in China and the wider Asian markets, Cheng said.

Housed in a spectacular old brick structure in the heart of the city, the 225-square-meter flagship store, which cost 5 million yuan ($794,000) to set up, will brew Italian coffee using raw materials sourced from countries within the equatorial zone.

"We are a late comer, but we believe we will expand rapidly," Cheng said.

The company will open 20 outlets in Shanghai and Beijing within two years, with each expected to cost more than 1 million yuan ($159,000) to set up, he said.

The business will then be extended into second-tier cities including Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Wuhan in Hubei province, Changsha in Hunan province and Chengdu in Sichuan province, Cheng added.

"Our purpose is to increase the number of Saicaf cafes to 100 within four years," he said.

"After that, the company will list in China to collect more funds for further expansion."