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Starbucks expanding in Japan with help from Uber

A photo shows an image of Starbucks Reserve Roastery which will be set in Japan by 2018. Japanese world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma (R) will design the reserve roastery at Nakameguro district in Tokyo and will become the fourth roastery in the world. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

While Starbucks may be making cuts at its Seattle headquarters, the company announced Thursday that it plans to add 300 stores in Japan over the next three years, including one of its high-class roasteries, along with other innovative goals such as a delivery service in Tokyo.

After the expansion, Starbucks is expected to have 1,700 stores total in Japan — there are 2,000 in the United States and 28,000 stores globally. The Japanese stores have kept up with recent company-wide moves, such as ditching plastic straws and switching to new stawless lids by 2020. But the expansion brings a series of innovative developments for the Japanese branch of the company.

“Starbucks Japan was built as a performance-driven company, guided through the lens of humanity, from the time of our first store opening in Tokyo in 1996,” said Takafumi Minaguchi, chief executive officer, Starbucks Japan. “We continue to set the pace for innovation and service for Starbucks globally by focusing on creating genuine human connection in our stores and positively impacting the communities we serve.”

Starting Nov. 9, the company will team up with Uber Eats Japan to deliver drinks and food in Tokyo. The service will begin as a pilot with three stores (two in Shinkjuku and one in Roppongi). Over the coming two years, the coffee company wants to expand the delivery service.

Starbucks is also starting a mobile order and pay program at Japanese stores in 2019. Customers will be able to make an order on their smartphone and pick up their request at a store.

While China is one of the company’s two most important markets in the world, sales in Japan did better than China in Starbucks’ fourth fiscal quarter.

A new Roastery

Starbucks has also planned the expansion of its chic line of roasteries worldwide. Japan will be among the next markets to get one. Starbuck’s hometown Seattle also has one roastery in its Capitol Hill neighborhood, which offers a hip, artisan atmosphere.

Tokyo’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery will open its doors on Feb. 28, 2019 in the “upscale” Nakameguro district, the company reports.

This will be the coffee company’s fifth roastery worldwide. Starbucks promoted that it will be unique from the handful of others in that it will be built from scratch by architect Kengo Kuma.

Company changes

Starbucks is not only experiencing changes globally. The coffee giant recently engaged in a series of layoffs at its Seattle headquarters. A number of leadership positions were also recently eliminated from the company’s website, including Pam Greer, Senior Vice President of Global Strategy.

The changes come not long after founder and CEO Howard Schultz stepped down in June. Nearly two months later, the company announced a series of layoffs were on the horizon.

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