Retailing, Franchising, and Consumerism Business Intelligence in China

Can Starbucks Maintain Quality In China Through Its Fast Growth?

Jeff Miller, operating vice president for Starbucks China, revealed to local Chinese media that the company plans to open over 800 new cafes in China in the next three years and recruit over 18,000 new employees.

So far, Starbucks has opened more than 700 coffee outlets in 54 cities across China.

According to Starbucks' latest financial report for the fourth financial quarter of 2012, the company will open at least 300 new outlets over the 2013 financial year. The report also stated that one of the reasons for its profit rate decline was because the fast expansion in China.

Miller told local media the Chinese market will become their largest market in the world, following the U.S. By then, Starbucks will realize the goal of operating 1,500 outlets in over 70 Chinese mainland cities by 2015.

In regards to the recruitment of 18,000 new employees, Miller said when hiring new people, they attach importance to their enthusiasm for coffee while testing their professional skills. After joining Starbucks, each employee will accept at least two weeks' training, which is above 80 hours, at the cafes, including making Starbucks coffee drinks and coffee tasting. These employees can only make coffee drinks for customers after gaining a star barista assessment certification.

However product quality and training may be more burdensome for Starbucks as the company grows in China. A few years ago, Starbucks China was notified of quality and health problems at its outlets in Shanghai and Beijing because baristas were repeatedly seen mixing non-dairy with dairy containers when creating coffee drinks, and also potentially slipshod cleaning habits when rinsing utensils and re-using containers for drink preparation. From's own viewing of outlets in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, these poor habits have continued to persist at Starbucks outlets in Greater China.

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