Starbucks CEO: We'll Open 1 Shop Per Day in China

Howard Schultz says the coffee chain is playing the "long game"
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2016 4:27 PM CDT
Starbucks CEO: We'll Open New Shop Every Day in China
A Starbucks barista hands out free coffee to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary in China in January 2009.   (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

How many black forest lattes can the Chinese drink? Starbucks is hoping the answer is a lot. CEO Howard Schultz tells CNNMoney the coffee giant is planning to open more than one new store each day in China over the next five years. The projection to have almost 5,000 stores across the country by 2021 comes despite the fact that growth in China has slowed to its lowest levels in a quarter-century. Unphased by that economic forecast, Schultz says Starbucks is looking far into the future. "I think if you look at the 45-year history of our company ... one of the things that we've done really well is that we've always played the long game," Schultz says. He adds that tourists and expats made up the majority of Starbucks customers in China only five years ago. "Today," he says, "it's mostly Chinese. "

China is the chain's second-largest market, after the US. Schultz says he expects that standing to flip as more Chinese discover menu items like cranberry white chocolate mochas. When the first Starbucks opened 17 years ago in China, the locals had no idea the addictive value of a cup of Joe—or how much better one could be topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. "We had to educate and teach many Chinese about what coffee was—the coffee ritual, what a latte was," Schultz said. "So in the early years, we did not make money." Other businesses like KFC and McDonald's haven't fared as well in recent times in the world's second-largest economy, and both have sought outside investors, per CNNMoney. (A class-action lawsuit says Starbucks lattes lack milk.)

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