| US

Starbucks to test Reserve Store roll-out as delivery partnerships launched

Chief Executive, Kevin Johnson, outlines Uber Eats partnership and opts for disciplined roll-out of premium Reserve Store concept in the US

Reserve Stores are set to be the most premium Starbucks store concepts after the prestigious Reserve Roasteries 

Johnson is observed to have a more disciplined, metrics-driven approach to managing Starbucks’ growth than his predecessor, Howard Schultz, who stepped down as CEO in June 2018. The US coffee giant’s annual investor conference in December 2018 made little mention of the much-lauded premium Reserve concepts. The event instead focused on the new ‘Starbucks Delivers’ concept, which aims to deliver from nearly a quarter of US-operated stores with Uber Eats in 2019.

Commenting on the roll-out of new delivery initiatives, including a partnership with new retail firm Alibaba in China, Johnson said Starbucks had “long been performance driven” and the firm was “better positioned than ever for continued success.”

Schultz previously indicated opening up to 1,000 Reserve Stores and 30 prestigious Reserve Roastery stores was a key facet of the coffee giant’s expansion strategy. Reserve Stores carry elements of the prestigious Roastery concept, including Italian food from the Princi brand and a full mixology bar. Currently there is only one Reserve Store in operation, located in the coffee giant’s Seattle headquarters. Starbucks plans to test whether six to ten Reserve Stores in the US could meet market demand before rolling them out to the commercial phase of development. 2019 will see a total of six Reserve Roasteries when planned sites in Chicago and Tokyo become operational. There are as yet no plans announced for more of the 15,000sq ft+ stores in the US or internationally.

In November 2018, Starbucks posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter results. The world’s largest coffee chain achieved 4% comparable sales growth in the US, up from 1% in the third quarter. In China, a key growth market for the firm, comparable sales rose 1%, reversing a 2% decline in the third-quarter.

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