Starbucks sees China as next key market after U.S.

SHANGHAI Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:23pm EST

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Starbucks (SBUX.O) will see China become the company's next major market after the United States in the near future, the firm's China chairman said on Wednesday.

"It's absolutely very, very important. This has really become our second home market," said Wang Jinlong, the company's head for Greater China.

Wang said profit contributions from the rapidly growing Chinese market more than doubled in 2009.

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said earlier this month he saw the potential for thousands of stores in China. Starbucks, whose current 2010 forecast calls for 100 net new stores in the United States and around 200 net new international cafes, has nearly 700 cafes in China.

Starbucks also raised its financial forecasts for 2010, a sign a year-long turnaround effort is boosting margins and putting it back on track for growth.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee and Helen Ding; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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