Plowing ahead with its mission to disprove the unbelievers, Starbucks is getting real with its caffeinated takeover of China, planning to open 500 stores in the country each year for the next five years.
Chief Executive Howard Schultz, visiting China this week, is undeterred by the hubbub around the country’s slowing economy. “We have confidence in the future of the Chinese economy, despite all the rhetoric, noise and issues,” Schultz declared. “People are looking for reasons not to believe. I’m on the ground and I see firsthand. I am bullish.”
“Over time, it’s conceivable that China could become our largest market,” he added.
Currently boasting 2,000 stores in 100 Chinese cities, Starbucks has succeeded where others are waning, reporting last year a fourth-quarter revenue for the Asia-Pacific region that had more than doubled from the year earlier to $652.2 million. That being said, China’s unexpected 4.5 billion cups of coffee per year is still lagging significantly behind North America’s 133.9 billion, according to Euromonitor International data. Also, there are more than 7,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, so lots of catching up to do.
But that may all change quicker than you’d think, as long as China continues to let foreign brands take over the homes of their former enemies.
By Pinky Latt