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4 highlights of Starbucks’ renewed growth plan

Starbucks gathered financial analysts in Seattle yesterday to air the chain’s updated growth strategy for the next five years. Here are some of the highlights from that preview:

Unconventional units will play a significant role

Officials revealed that they will open at least 100 Seattle Reserve high-end, highly theatrical units where super-premium coffees roasted and offered exclusively by Starbucks will be the draw. At the other end of the spectrum are “micro” stores, grab-and-go express units and drive-thrus, where the focus will be on convenience and speed of service. A mention was also made of deploying more Starbucks trucks, which are currently offered on a small scale, almost exclusively on college campuses. The push into alternative format types will start next year.

Bar service will be expanded

What the company calls the “Starbucks Evenings experience” will be expanded to at least 20 percent of the Starbucks chain. The participating stores will offer beer, wine and a limited bar menu of items like chicken skewers, served on small plates. The company forecast $1 billion in sales from the service by the ends of its 2019 fiscal year.

Food will be a paramount sales driver

The company expressed confidence that it could add $2 billion in food sales by continuing to add what it described as “savory, locally relevant food offerings,” without revealing much detail. Analysts cited indications of using more baked goods from the company’s La Boulange bakery and café holding.

New services will be unveiled

Starbucks will diversify into the payment processing business by building on the tech platform for its mobile preordering system and loyalty app, executives said. Although few new details were revealed, the company confirmed speculation that other retailers will be invited to accept Starbucks’ digital wallet, which consumers tap through their smart phones. A loyalty component will also apparently be offered. Although officials were cryptic, they suggested that Starbucks products could be among the loyalty rewards.  

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