July 16 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp opened its first shop in Colombia on Wednesday, 43 years after the world's biggest coffee chain first starting buying beans from the country known for its premium arabica coffee.
The first of 50 stores planned for the coming five years is in Bogota's Parque de la 93, in one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods. It and all other Starbucks stores in Colombia will be the company's first to serve only locally sourced coffee.
Starbucks is the biggest single buyer of Colombian coffee. Its new stores will compete with the national coffee federation's roughly 200-unit Juan Valdez coffee chain, in addition to fellow newcomer Nespresso.
"We think we can exist in a very complementary way," Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz told Reuters by telephone, noting that his company's arrival often expands a market and improves business for existing competitors.
The Colombia business is run by a joint venture between Starbucks and two of its long-time business partners in Latin America, Alsea SAB de CV of Mexico and Grupo Nutresa SA of Columbia.
More than half of the 400 million pounds of coffee purchased by Starbucks last year came from Latin America, where the chain has more than 700 stores.
Two years ago, Starbucks opened a Farmer Support Center in Manizales, Colombia. Last summer, the company announced a public-private partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development that is investing $3 million to increase Colombian coffee yields.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)