Is Starbucks’ Growth Future In China?

Coffee chain Starbucks sees China as its largest growth opportunity, and company CEO Kevin Johnson says the firm is pushing full speed ahead as it maps out it growth plan for the next 10 years, according to Bloomberg reports published Tuesday (Oct. 10).

Speaking to Bloomberg at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Washington, Johnson noted that though the U.S. will always be a key market for the coffee giant, the global expansion of the latte and macchiato is in the chain’s future.

“China is our second-largest and fastest-growing market,” he said. “We can build new stores in China for decades and still have [an] opportunity for growth there.”

That plan was seen in action back in July when Starbucks announced its intention to buy out the partners in its East China joint venture and acquire the remaining 50 percent of the business in a $1.3 billion transaction, Bloomberg reported.

That makes Starbucks the sole proprietor of 1,300 cafes in Shanghai and in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

And, according to the recent reports, those 1,300 stores are just the beginning. The well-known coffee brand is hoping that China’s rapidly growing middle class and ongoing press into urban areas will push the Starbucks name to new heights in its overseas markets. To that end, Starbucks has set a target of operating approximately 5,000 cafes in mainland China by 2021.

“The tech industry and the coffee industry certainly have two different business models, but they have a lot in common,” Johnson noted. “We have to innovate to stay relevant.”