Starbucks Is Engaged Primarily in the Retail Research Paper

Pages: 10 (2886 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business

Starbucks is engaged primarily in the retail coffee shop industry. The company, based in Seattle, operates in dozens of countries around the world, but its primary market is the United States. The company ran into financial difficulties in 2008-2009 with decreased revenue and profits, but has since recovered, as evidenced by its most recent annual results (MSN Moneycentral, 2010). This paper will analyze Starbucks in terms of a number of different operating characteristics, in the format of a research paper, meaning that there will be little discussion of issues or recommendations. Although there are some limitations with respect to gaining detailed information about the proprietary operations of public firms, attempts will be made to address all of the key issues based on whatever evidence is available in the public sphere.

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Starbucks had sales of $10.7 billion in fiscal 2010, an improvement of 9.5% over the previous year. This led to record profits of $945 million, up 141.9% from the previous year (MSN Moneycentral, 2010). The company was struggling in 2008, and at that point in time undertook a restructuring program that has brought about the current success. The first element of this program was cost containment, marked by the company's first ever round of mass store closures (Allison, 2008). In addition to the cost-cutting, Starbucks has worked to increase revenues, by introducing new products such as the VIA, which has been a huge success for the company (Fujimura & Firn, 2010) and through expanding internationally. The company opened 236 new stores in fiscal 2008 and a further 89 in fiscal 2009 (2009 Starbucks Annual Report). President of Starbucks International John Culver pointed out in the 2010 earnings conference call that Starbucks sees strong growth in China, Brazil and Russia going forward. Beyond these critical strategic developments there are other elements of the company that should also be examined, and these ancillary elements will be the focus on this paper.


Research Paper on Starbucks Is Engaged Primarily in the Retail Assignment

This body includes a wide range of sections, each about a different aspect of the Starbucks company's operations. These include diversity management; ethical, social and legal responsibilities; international business; general planning and strategic planning; organizing work and synergism; organizational structure; work teams utilization; staffing; employee training and development; motivating employees; leadership and management; managing conflict and stress; managing change; controlling; appraising and rewarding; operations management and plans; and operations control. This shotgun approach to analysis will hopefully prove comprehensive when it is all complete, and the conclusion will attempt to filter the useful information and brew it into some eye-opening insights.

Diversity Management

Starbucks, on its website (2010) states that it has "value(s) integrity and embrace(s) diversity as an essential component" of its business, and that it has "a commitment to creating a diverse workplace in which everyone's voice is heard and in which everyone can learn from each other." As such, Starbucks "will not discriminate against anyone applying for a job -- or whilst in our employ -- for reasons of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race…or any other reason."

Ethical, Social and Legal Responsibilities

Starbucks has never faced any criminal suit with respect to its legal responsibilities and is bound by the laws of each land in which it operates. The company takes the view that it has ethical and social responsibilities. The company has a Business Ethics and Compliance program that works to train Starbucks staff on the ethical issues that they may face and provide guidance for action. These include sensitive issues, conflicts of interest and the provision of channels for partners (employees) to voice their concerns (, 2010). One particular social issue that has come to the fore in recent years is with respect to fair trade coffee, wherein the grower is paid a living wage for his or her product. Working with Conservation International, Starbucks has initiated a program to promote fair trade coffee. As a result of this program, Starbucks purchase of fair trade coffee increased from 19 million pounds in 2008 to 39 million pounds in 2009 and the company aims to have 100% of its coffee certified eventually (, 2010). The company is also working to utilize local supplies of coffee in some of its stores, for example promoting Yunnan coffee in its Chinese stores. "We would pay prime price for high-quality coffee beans but at the same time we would emphasize the transparency of the coffee trade between Starbucks and the farmers who cultivate the high-quality coffee beans" was CEO Howard Schultz's comment on the matter (China Business Daily, 2010). Starbucks also contributes to charitable programs such as those designed to tackle the issue of AIDS in Africa (2009 Annual Report).

International Business

Starbucks is active in international markets in two ways. First, all of its coffee is sourced from outside the U.S., as there are no domestic coffee growing regions. Starbucks sources from all of the major coffee-growing regions -- Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific and as a result has strong ties to these regions. From a retail perspective, Starbucks has 47% of its retail stores outside the United States, a total of 7803 stores out of the company's total of 16,635 stores at the end of fiscal 2009. Among company-owned stores, the largest international market is Canada, with 775 stores. This is followed by the United Kingdom (666 stores), China (191 stores), Germany (144 stores), and Thailand (131 stores). However, in some countries the primary business model is through licensing. The leading international market for licensed stores is Japan with 875 stores. This is followed by South Korea (288), China (283), Canada (262) and Mexico (261). Starbucks also has a strong presence in the Philippines, Malaysia, Turkey, the UAE, Kuwait and Singapore. All told international markets account for around 20% of total revenues, as the international segment relies heavily on licensing, which returns less income to Starbucks than company-owned stores (Starbucks 2009 Annual Report).

Strategic Planning

After the struggles of 2008-2009, the company has refocused its efforts on its core strategy plans. The company set out a broad transformation agenda that included improving training, focus on store-level economics, building emotional attachment with customers and restoring innovation. Each of these tactics supports the broad-level differentiated strategy that Starbucks pursues. The strategy is built around several key components -- innovation, customer service and brand-building. The training program supports the customer service element, as does the building of emotional attachments with the customers. Innovation was restored with the introduction of the VIA product, which has done excellent business for Starbucks. The focus on store level economics included closing the underperforming store and ultimately has resulted in a restoration of the company's historic margins.

Organizing Work and Synergism

At the retail level, Starbuck is focused on developing a well-trained workforce that can handle multiple customer service tasks simultaneously. This allows Starbucks to deliver enhanced customer service. There is a high degree of synergy in Starbucks' operations, especially since the 2008 strategic shift that refocused the company back towards its core coffee offering.

Organizational Structure

Starbucks operates a geographic organizational structure, but remains highly centralized. The company's divisions are U.S., International, and Global Consumer Products Group, the latter being focused on licensing arrangements such as that with Pepsi for Starbucks packaged coffee drinks. Each of these segments varies significantly in size. The largest, U.S., is focused around the company's retail presence and is largely run from Seattle. The International segment is divided on a geographical basis, with each country having its own subsidiary. Within the structure of International, there are a number of joint venture partnerships for licensed stores, and this is the preferred method of foreign market entry in Asia. Within GCPG, the organization is divided along product lines. There is no product line division within U.S., nor are there geographic divisions. The organization is rather structured more along functional lines including marketing, information technology, finance, supply chain operations, talent management, and a handful of minor geographic segments. This structure allows Starbucks to operate with a heavily centralized business model, which supports the company's strategy of offering a consistent level of product and service around the world.

Work Teams Utilization

Starbucks does not make strong use of work teams. Many of its projects require the input of primarily one unit -- for example a new licensing agreement in an Asian country would be the responsibility of International. Only when two units are directly involved would there be any coordination between the two, but even then it is limited. The move to source coffee from Yunnan for the company's Chinese stores for example was spearheaded by the Chinese subsidiary and did not involve much input from supply chain or marketing. The centralized structure allows for easy consultation among executives with necessitating work teams.


Starbucks employees are dubbed "partners." Staffing is a component of the company's strategy, because the in-store experience is considered by the company to be a source of competitive advantage. Starbucks offers a respectable benefits packages and a positive working environment not only as… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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