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Starbucks CEO targets growth in China after years of Covid slowdowns

Starbucks helped build the coffee industry in China, says CEO Laxman Narasimhan

Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan spoke with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday after the coffee giant reported earnings for its fourth quarter that beat Wall Street expectations. Narasimhan discussed the company’s plans to expand its stores in China, its second-largest market.

“We’ve only said that we would grow to 9,000 by the end of ’25, and I’ll tell you this, that is just a milestone,” Narasimhan said.

The company saw headwinds in China over the past few years, with business stalled due to the country’s prolonged zero-Covid policy. This quarter saw China’s same-store sales grow 5% and customer traffic increase 8%, although the average ticket declined 3%.

After 24 years of business in China, Narasimhan said per capita coffee consumption lies at 12 cups per person. In the U.S., that number sits at 380 and in Japan, 280, he added. Narasimhan also said Starbucks is seeing strong business and growth opportunities in Shanghai, with more than 1,000 stores in the city and per capita consumption between 100 cups and 150 cups.

Starbucks’ fourth-quarter revenue was $9.37 billion, compared to $9.29 billion expected by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv, and its earnings per share came in at $1.06, topping estimates of 97 cents. Shares of the company closed up about 9.5% Thursday.

Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan talks Q4 earnings with Jim Cramer

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