Starbucks will close 150 stores in 2019

Signage at a Starbucks store in New York

Signage at a Starbucks store in New York

Starbucks, which has dealt with significant controversy in 2018, will close 150 underperforming stores after sales have slowed down.

In May, Starbucks closed all of its more than 8,000 USA stores for an afternoon so that their employees could participate in "racial bias training" following an incident in Philadelphia in which a store employee called the police on two black men who were arrested for trespassing.

The controversy was the biggest public relations test yet for new Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, who already was fighting to boost traffic to Starbucks amid competition from coffee sellers ranging from hipster cafes to fast-food chains and convenience stores.

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In July 2017, Starbucks closed all 379 Teavana locations after the tea shop showed poor sales and little hope of improving.

"We have a line that we'd love to share with our customers later this year, so it is in our plans", she said. Analysts had expected same-store sales to grow 3% in that period. According to Bloomberg News, the comparable sales performance would be Starbucks' weakest in nine years.

"We're putting more of our energy into that afternoon day part and the portfolio of beverages that are offsetting some of the declines we're seeing in Frappuccino beverages", Johnson said, citing a consumer shift away from sugary drinks.

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Through 2020, Starbucks expects to return about $25 billion in cash to shareholders through buybacks and dividends, a $10 billion increase from its previously announced target. Additionally, it plans to cut general and administrative costs, and has hired a consultant to help in this area.

Starbucks said it would look to open more stores in under penetrated markets and explore strategic options to license company-operated stores. "But the current political environment with trade wars looming or the governments picking at each other-it definitely casts a shadow over the long-term prospects for large western brands that are in China".

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