While Starbucks aims to streamline its operations in places that are seeing challenges with sales, the coffee chain plans to give a longtime partner the rights to operate cafes in four European markets. Mexico’s Alsea SAB will receive the rights for Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands, Reuters reported.
The coffee chain plans to sell 83 of its locations in France and the Netherlands to Alsea. In addition, Alsea will take over operations at 177 franchisee-owned stores, according to reports. At the same time, Starbucks plans to shutter an Amsterdam support center, while consolidating its headquarters for Europe in London.
Alsea, on the other hand, would grow its Starbucks ties beyond Latin America and take its Starbucks partnerships to nine markets around the world. The company, as it stands, already has 900 franchised Starbucks stores in Latin America.
In China, however, the company is building a new store in the country every 15 hours, and views boosting growth there as one of its “three strategic priorities,” said Starbucks CEO and President Kevin Johnson at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto on Tuesday (Oct. 16).
With more than 3,000 stores already in operation in the country, another 2,000 are slated to open by 2021. In fact, the company builds more new company-operated locations in China than in its home country. “To us, we open 500-plus stores a year, but to us, it’s not about 500,” said Belinda Wong, CEO of Starbucks China. “It’s about opening a store 500 different times because you’re in a different neighborhood and we’ve got to build that relationship with our customer.”
China is Starbucks’ second largest — and fastest growing — market. Starbucks China serves more than five million customers per week, most of whom visit between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., though the country is beginning to adopt the U.S. custom of morning coffee beverages as well. More than 60 percent of Starbucks’ products in China are paid for digitally via the company’s mobile app, which became available in the country in 2016. Starbucks also has partnerships with Alibaba and Tencent.