Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, recently announced his company’s plan to open 500 new stores in China. This venture, slated to end in 2019, will increase the total number of stores in China to roughly 3,400. This marks a significant expansion of the company’s presence in the country.
Starbucks’s decision to expand could yield interesting results in China, as the world’s most heavily populated country holds the potential to become the world’s largest consumer of coffee. China’s current coffee consumption, though sharply on the rise, is dwarfed by North America’s. It totals just over 3% of North America’s monolithic 133.9 billion cups per year, according to Euromonitor International. Nonetheless, Starbucks’s presence tripled in China’s Central and Western region over the last three years, illustrating the Seattle-based company’s resolve to expand overseas.
The heavy investment also shows that despite recent instability in the country's economy, Starbucks is still confident in the Chinese market. Schultz spoke on Starbucks efforts in China in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal saying: "As Starbucks second largest and fastest-growing market globally, China represents the most important and exciting opportunity ahead of us. … Over time, it’s conceivable that China could become our largest market."