Starbucks Corp., the world's biggest coffee chain, plans to more than double the rate at which it opens stores to an average of more than one a day during the next 12 months.
“Our ability to navigate through the financial crisis and come out much stronger gives us reason to start growing the company again,” Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said in an interview Friday in China’s Yunnan province. He plans to open 500 stores in the fiscal year that began in October, with 400 outside the U.S., he said.
China will be Starbucks’ biggest growth market in two years, Schultz said. Jinlong Wang, the restaurant operator’s China chief, said outlets in the world’s most populous nation will exceed 1,000 in the “near future.”
Coffee chain operators are expanding in the world’s fastest-growing major economy, as increasingly affluent consumers buy more beverages in coffee shops.
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Starbucks seeks to boost coffee consumption in China, which is at an annual 22 grams per person, compared with an estimated 3.3 kilograms in Japan, according to data from roaster Key Coffee Inc.
Still, Schultz said “one needs to continue to be mindful of the fragile nature of the global economy.”
The restaurant chain’s planned store-opening rate will be the highest since the 2008 fiscal year, when it opened 1,669 stores, according to its website.
The Seattle-based company closed 45 stores in fiscal year 2009 and opened 223 in fiscal year 2010, which ended Oct. 3.