Starbucks Plans to Double Rate of Store Openings

StarbucksCoffee giant Starbucks (SBUX) plans to more than double the rate at which it opens stores as the global economy recovers, according to Bloomberg.

CEO Howard Schultz plans to open 500 stores in the fiscal year that began in October, with 400 outside the U.S., he told Bloomberg. The world's biggest coffee chain's planned store-opening rate will be the highest since the 2008 fiscal year, when it opened 1,669 stores. It closed 45 stores in fiscal 2009 and opened 223 in fiscal 2010, which ended Oct. 3.

China will be Starbucks' biggest growth market in two years, Schultz said. And according to Jinlong Wang, the restaurant operator's China chief, there will be more than 1,000 locations in China in the "near future."

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But while the world's most populous country may present the biggest opportunity for the chain, Starbucks will have to work hard to boost coffee consumption in China, which is at an annual 22 grams per person, compared with an estimated 3.3 kilograms in Japan, according to data from roaster Key Coffee Inc. But there's definitely growth as sales at China's coffee shops more than tripled to 35 million yuan in 2009 from 11 million yuan in 2004, according to data from Euromonitor International.

And even in China, the Seattle-based company faces increased competition, with other chains planning expansion as well. So far, however, Bloomberg reports that Starbucks dominated the market with a 69.8% share last year, compared with No. 2 player with 5% share.

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