Belfast Telegraph

Starbucks plan has eastern promise

The world's largest coffee seller Starbucks plans to triple the number of its shops in China during the next four years.

It wants to operate 1,500 by 2015 from a current 470, the company's Asia Pacific president Jinlong Wang said.

It also expects to open 700 coffee shops in South Korea by 2016, up from 370 now.

"The coffee industry in China has huge potential," Mr Wang said. "China has 5,000 years as a tea-drinking country, but we've created a new coffee culture."

Starbucks is eyeing fast-growing emerging economies to help boost sales.

Mr Wang said Starbucks sales in Asia have remained robust in recent months despite a slowing global economy.

"We've seen very strong same store sales across Asia - double- digit growth in some markets," he said.

Starbucks plans to introduce its Via Ready Brew instant coffee this month to South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia.

Since opening its first store in China in 1999, Starbucks has spread to 42 cities, including 10 new ones this year.

Starbucks is preparing to open its first outlets in India next year and in Vietnam in 2013, Mr Wang added.

Starbucks has 17,000 stores in 55 countries.