Starbucks Is Open for Business in Vietnam

Brand seeks to compete with traditional brew in Asian expansion

Starbucks opened up shop in Ho Chi Minh in February, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that sales have exceeded expectations so far. Still, Vietnam may prove a challenge for the hegemonic coffee company because of the country's rich coffee culture that dates back at least a century.

"If Starbucks wants to succeed in Vietnam, they have to change the way they serve," customer Minh Khanh told the Journal.

"Starbucks no longer has the personality it had when it first started," local coffee retailer Dang Le Nguyen Vu told Bloomberg.

Vu owns Trung Nguyen, a Vietnamese chain with a roasting tradition dating back to 19th century French and Dutch plantations. Vu is confident that Vietnamese coffee fans will remain loyal to the "thick, oily" domestic brew.

John Culver, Starbucks president for China and the Asia-Pacific region, said, "We will aggressively grow" in Vietnam, with "hundreds of stores."

The company is focusing on expansion in Asia and said it will double the number of stores in Thailand to 320 and expand into Myanmar within the next couple of years.