Starbucks: Coffee with a conscience

Mar 23, 2011, 10:36 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz addressed more than 2,000 shareholders in Seattle today, reminding them of the company’s beginnings 40 years ago.

“We wanted to build the kind of company that perhaps our parents had never worked for. A company that would balance profitability and a social conscience,” says Schultz. “As a result of that, we put in place two significant benefits that would become the fabric and the foundation of the company. One was comprehensive health insurance for all of our employees and the other was equity in the form of stock options.”

He says those are the benefits that have allowed Starbucks to build a “great, enduring company.”

“We’re not perfect, we make mistakes,” he says, but overall Starbucks is a company that “leads with its heart.”

Investors saw Starbucks stock go up about 3.6 percent as Schultz spoke. Stock ended the day closing down a penny at $36.68 a share.

Schultz says the past financial quarter was the best performing in the company’s history – part of that he attributes to making it easy and fast for customers to purchase products through mobile payments. Starbucks cards now account for 22 percent of all transactions.

The company also announced today it’s adding content from Marvel Digital Comics, ESPN Insider Rumor and other news and entertainment sources to its in-store digital options. They join media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today on the network.

Starbucks launched the in-store network last year, attempting to capitalize on the free Wi-Fi in their coffee shops.

The next 40 years of Starbucks – the company’s official birthday is March 30th – involve growing the brand to selling products in grocery stores. That includes its Via instant coffee, bottled Frappuccino and any other consumer packaged goods Starbucks might dream up.

“The CPG business as we know it today will rival the success of our Starbucks retail business,” Schultz says.

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Starbucks: Coffee with a conscience