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Starbucks turns over West European market to Alsea

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Alsea, an overseas partner for U.S. restaurant brands ranging from Burger King to The Cheesecake Factory, has been awarded licensing rights to run and develop Starbucks outlets in Western Europe.

The deal reflects a growing reliance by Starbucks on licensing for overseas expansion. Simultaneous with the Alsea announcement, the coffee giant disclosed plans to tweak its infrastructure for supporting global operations. A new center for servicing licensed stores will be established in London, where Starbucks currently has a regional office. Support services currently provided out of an Amsterdam center will be shifted to the London facility.

Starbucks will continue to feed international operations out of a roaster in the Netherlands.

“This new structure will be the culmination of a long and thoughtful process to simplify our organization so that it can best service our increasingly licensed store market strategy while continuing to embed our mission and values in how we operate everyday,” Martin Brok, president of Starbucks’ Europe, Middle East and Africa division, said in a statement.

Starbucks is also planning changes in its domestic structure and workforce, according to a memo that was supplied by a source to Restaurant Business.

The company indicated that it will continue to develop and operate overseas stores, which it will use as innovation centers.

The deal with Alsea covers current and future Starbucks outlets in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Starbucks currently has 260 cafes in operation throughout the four nations.

The arrangement will “enable us to further accelerate growth across these markets as we position Starbucks for long-term success going forward,” said John Culver, president of Starbucks’ international, channel development, and global coffee and tea group.

Alsea, based in Mexico, already operates about 900 Starbucks units, all in Central and South America. It has been a licensee since 2002, when the first Starbucks opened in Mexico City.

With the licensing arrangement announced today, the publicly traded company will be Starbucks’ partner in nine countries.


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