Starbucks Coffee Company is set to expand to Laos as part of its plans to strengthen its presence in Asia.

The US-based coffee chain plans to open its first location in Laos in the capital city of Vientiane by the middle of next year.

The store will be operated by Coffee Concepts (Laos), a part of Maxim’s Caterers, and will offer the company’s signature handcrafted beverages.

Starbucks International Licensed Stores executive vice-president Michael Conway said: “We’re excited to bring the Starbucks experience to Laos, which has a rich history of coffee production and thriving coffee culture.”

Following the launch, the coffee chain will have a presence in 17 Asian markets with more than 10,000 stores across the region.

The company employs over 149,000 people across the Asian markets, including China and Japan.

Through its licensed partner Coffee Concepts, the brand operates approximately 800 stores across Hong Kong and Macau regions, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Maxim’s Caterers chairman and managing director Michael Wu said: “We are pleased to introduce the Starbucks brand into Laos, which further builds on our 20-year relationship with Starbucks to grow the coffee industry across Asia.

“We look forward to continuing to deliver the unique Starbucks experience to customers in the market to earn the trust and respect known by customers around the world.”

Notably, the expansion comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic had significantly affected Starbucks’ same-store sales and operating margin.

In June, the company announced plans to shut down approximately 400 stores in the US and Canada over the next 18 months.