June 16, 2008 / 8:41 AM / 10 years ago

Starbucks says international growth to cushion U.S. weakness

BERLIN (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) is planning a more aggressive expansion into overseas markets to compensate for weakness in the United States, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a newspaper interview on Monday.

A woman walks past a Starbucks store in Somerville, Massachusetts April 24, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Schultz told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that the company plans to license 150 new coffee shop locations in Germany, Britain and France in the next three years, with 120 of those in Germany.

“The international business is cushioning the weakness in America at the moment,” Schultz said.

Starbucks is aiming to raise its sales abroad by 20 percent per year over the next three years while annual growth of only six percent is expected in the United States, the FAZ said.

“A lot of people asked if Starbucks would have any relevance in Germany,” said Schultz, referring to doubts at the launch in Germany in 2002. “I think we’ve proven that we’ve been accepted in Germany.”

Starbucks has 4,500 locations abroad, of which 120 are in Germany. In the United States Starbucks has 11,000 outlets.

    Schultz said the coffee-drinking culture in Europe is vastly different than in the United States.

    “In America 80 percent get their coffee to go and only 20 percent sit down and stay. In Europe it’s the other way around,” he said, explaining why more floor space is needed in European locations.

    Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Quentin Bryar

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