Starbucks' initial public offering (IPO) of common stock in June 1992 turned into one of the most successful IPOs of the year. With the capital afforded it by being a public company, Starbucks accelerated the expansion of its store network (see Exhibit 1). Starbucks' success helped specialty coffee products begin to catch on across the United States. Competitors, some imitating the Starbucks model, began to spring up in many locations. The Specialty Coffee Association of America predicted that the number of coffee cafés in the United States would rise from 500 in 1992 to 10,000 by 1999.
The Store Expansion Strategy
In 1992 and 1993 Starbucks developed a three-year geographic expansion strategy that targeted areas which not only had favorable demographic profiles but which also could be serviced and supported by the company's operations infrastructure. For each targeted region, Starbucks selected a large city to serve as a "hub"; teams of professionals were located in hub cities to support the goal of opening 20 or more stores in the hub in the first two years. Once stores blanketed the hub, then additional stores were opened in smaller, surrounding "spoke" areas in the region. To oversee the expansion process, Starbucks created zone vice presidents to direct the development of each region and to implant the Starbucks culture in the newly opened stores. All of the new zone vice presidents Starbucks recruited came with extensive operating and marketing experience in chain-store retailing.
Starbucks' store launches grew steadily more successful. In 1995, new stores generated an average of $700,000 in revenue in their first year, far more than the average of $427,000 in 1990. This was partly due to the growing reputation of the Starbucks brand. In more and more instances, Starbucks' reputation reached new markets even before stores opened. Moreover, existing stores continued to post year-to-year gains in sales (see Exhibit 1).
Starbucks had notable success...
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