Thirty years ago Starbuck was a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market selling premium roasted coffee. Today it is a global roaster and retailer of coffee with over 8400 stores, more than 2000 of which are to be found in 31 foreign countries. Starbuck corporation set out on its current course in the 1980s when the company’s director of marketing, Howard Schultz, came back from a trip to Italy enchanted with the Italian coffeehouse experience. Schultz, who later became CEO, persuaded the company’s owners to experiment with the coffeehouse format-and the Starbucks experience was born. The basic strategy was to sell the company’s own premium roasted coffee, along with freshly brewed espresso-style coffee beverages, a variety of pastries, coffee accessories, teas, and other products, in a tastefully designed coffeehouse setting. The company also stressed providing superior customer services. Reasoning that motivated employees provide the best customer service, Starbucks’ executives devoted a lot of attention to employee hiring and training programs and progressive compensation policies that gave even part-time employees stock option grants and medical benefits. The formula met with spectacular success in the United States, where Starbucks went from obscurity to one of the best known brands in the country in the decade. In 1995, with almost 700 stores across the United States, Starbucks began exploring foreign opportunities. Its first target market was Japan. Although Starbucks has resisted a franchising strategy in North America, where its stores are company owned, Starbucks initially decided to license its format in Japan. However, the company also realized that a pure licensing agreement would not give Starbucks the control needed to ensure that the Japanese licensees closely followed Starbucks’ successful formula. So the company established a joint venture with a local retailer, Sazaby Inc. Each company held a 50 percent stake in the venture,...
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