Stars Coffee

That's how former Russian Starbucks' stores now look like

Left: The logo of the Russian Stars Coffee, on the right the original Starbucks logo.
IMAGO / SNA / Jan Hübner
Left: The logo of the Russian Stars Coffee, on the right the original Starbucks logo.

At the end of May, Starbucks announced that it was turning its back on Russia permanently because of the war in Ukraine. Now the stores are reopening under the Stars Coffee label. The visual similarities are striking. The chain's new owners are rapper Timati Yunusov and restaurateur Anton Pinsky. This is reported by Reuters news agency, among others.

In mid-August, Yunusov and Pinsky unveiled the new chain in Moscow. At first glance, the similarities of logo, interior and concept to the U.S. model are striking. Like Starbucks, Stars Coffee's logo features an image of a woman with a star above her head. The font used in the store logos on the branches is also very obviously similar to those of the US coffee roasters. Except for the letters for "buck."

Stars Coffee: Starbucks successor in Russia

According to co-owner Timati, when it came to the logo, they "tried to maintain a certain continuity" because they were not allowed to use the original logo. Hence the circular shape and the female figure. "People's perceptions may be different," Pinsky said. "But when you compare, apart from the circle, you don't find any similarities."

Starbucks declined to comment on the similarity of the logo and name. The company referred to an earlier statement, saying it had made the decision to pull out and no longer had a brand in the Russian market.

130 stores to reopen one by one

Since Starbucks has its own sourcing and production, Timati and Pinsky had to find new suppliers. However, according to Timati, no problems were encountered in the process. Stars Coffee imports beans from Latin America and Africa, Pinsky said, and suppliers for other products are based in Russia.

Starbucks had 130 stores in Russia, operated by its licensee Alshaya Group, and employed nearly 2,000 people there. Pinsky said the units would reopen in August and September in stages.

Kuwait-based global franchise operator Alshaya lost interest in the business after Starbucks withdrew the brand from Russia, Timati told Reuters. Alshaya did not initially respond to a Reuters query. "We won the tender and created our own brand," Timati told Reuters.

New operators close to Kremlin

The two investors would not reveal how much they paid to former master licensee Alshaya. "We invested as much as we paid them," Pinsky said. "It's an expensive proposition."

Timati is one of Russia's best-known rappers and co-founder of the Black Star Burger chain in Russia, according to Reuters. He is also known for his support of the Kremlin. In 2015, he released a track with the lyrics "President Putin is my best friend."

Pinsky has a number of restaurants in his portfolio, including a joint project with Timati, Redbox, which serves pan-Asian cuisine. Earlier in August, he had told Russian reporter and political activist Ksenia Sobchak that he had never tasted coffee in his life.

McDonald's also rebranded

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the retail and restaurant landscape in Russia is visibly changing. Several Western companies had turned their backs on the country. This included McDonald's, whose units already reopened in June under the new name "Vkusno i totschka" ("Tasty and that's it") and logo. However, the similarities to the U.S. original in the corporate identity were not as obvious as at Stars Coffee. McDonald's said it had incurred special costs of between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion for its withdrawal from Russia.