Speaking in Chengdu, Howard Schultz also announced several new initiatives for employees and e-commerce, along with plans for Starbucks to to operate 3,400 stores by 2019.
“As Starbucks’ second largest and fastest-growing market globally, China represents the most important and exciting opportunity ahead of us,” said Schultz.
“Over time, it’s conceivable that China could become our largest market, and I am grateful to our 30,000 dedicated China partners and their supportive families for the significant contributions they are making to Starbucks success.”
Starting this month, full-time Starbucks baristas and shift supervisors in company-owned stores across China will receive a monthly housing allowance subsidy that is expected, on average, to cover half their monthly housing expenditures.
Starbucks China will also recognise employees who have served in stores for 10 consecutive years by offering them 12 months of unpaid leave before being reinstated. Social and company benefits will continue during this period, the company said.
“Families play a tremendous role in the life and career choices for our partners in China and it’s important that we include their families in the conversation of who we are as a company and the investments we’re making toward supporting our partners’ future,” said said Belinda Wong, president of Starbucks China.
Last month, the company opened a flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall, China’s largest open business-to-consumer and social gifting platform, to send the chain’s products digitally as gifts. It now has more than 300,000 registered fans and has become the number one performing brand on Tmall’s F&B category within its first month.
“Digital is highly relevant to our customers in China and we are committed to building a locally relevant Starbucks experience that seamlessly integrates our unique store experience and the digital space, while building moments of human connection for our customers,” said Wong.
“We will learn from the experiences in our other markets and explore new strategic partnerships with leading platforms to enable the Starbucks China digital flywheel.”