Starbucks Takes On the World

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According to this WSJ interview, the Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, says he plans to significantly increase the number of Starbucks locations in the years ahead to 30,000 (from 11,000 today), half of which will be located outside of the US.

Currently, about a third of all Starbucks stores are located outside the US, in 37 countries. Only 209 stores are based in China, but that’s where the bulk of the expansion will take place. Schultz didn’t say how many locations are planned for China, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see China account for 20% of those 30,000 locations, which translates to 6,000. Of course, that’s an easy number to come up with when there is no target date given. And the underlying assumption is that China will continue its robust growth and local competitors don’t make a large dent.

But so far so good. Starubucks has taken a page from McDonald’s global playbook and improved it: It has the same global ambitions but has largely freed itself from any US-centric branding. But as Starbucks grows abroad it will need to pay close attention to undercurrents back home. I’m still a Starbucks regular, but I order Peets by direct mail. And the minute they open a store in the neighborhood, my daily habits may change.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.