The Daily Telegraph

Starbucks quells sale talk with plan for 100 new shops

- By Daniel Woolfson

STARBUCKS has put an end to speculatio­n it could sell its British business with plans to invest £30m here and open 100 new coffee shops.

The American hospitalit­y giant, which has 1,066 outlets across the UK, said it would spend millions refurbishi­ng its existing branches over the next three years and opening new branches over the next year. It follows reports last summer that the chain was considerin­g selling the business.

The company mulled a sale amid rising competitio­n from rivals such as Pret a Manger and high inflationa­ry pressures. The company said at the time it was “not in a formal sale process”.

The investment plans signal that Starbucks is committed to Britain for now. Accounts at Companies House show Starbucks’s UK sales rose by 37pc to £449m last year, surpassing prepandemi­c revenues for the first time.

However, pre-tax profits dropped by a fifth to £10.4m as the climbing cost of everything from coffee beans to cups and energy ate into margins. Starbucks also gave its baristas a pay rise last year, reflecting intense competitio­n in the labour market and a cost of living squeeze on workers.

As costs soared last year, Starbucks raised the price of some espresso drinks and iced beverages by approximat­ely 4pc.

Duncan Moir, president of Starbucks’ European operations, said: “While we are cautious about the macroecono­mic environmen­t, we will continue to invest to grow the region this year. We plan to open over 100 new stores in the UK and 300 new stores in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to continue this growth momentum.”

New stores will be a mixture of company-owned branches and franchised stores. Starbucks owns about 30pc of its outlets directly in the UK, with the remaining 70pc run by franchisee­s.

Mr Moir said the coffee chain wanted to open “digitally forward smaller stores” and more drive-throughs.

The business recently announced a new range of drinks in Italy called Oleato, which are coffee beverages with extra virgin olive oil. The unusual drinks are expected to launch in the UK over coming months.

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