Starbucks drops identikit stores

MD says chain's identikit decor will be ditched in favour of bolder, more quirky outlets

Britain's biggest coffee-shop chain is to abandon its decade-long policy of starting identikit stores in the hope that less homogeneous shops will lift sales.

Out will go the muted beige and greens, uniform furniture and signage. And in will come local artefacts, bolder colours, bigger community noticeboards and possibly second-hand furniture in a move to create more individual stores.

Darcy Willson-Rymer, Starbucks' UK and Ireland managing director, admitted the US multinational had erred during its rapid expansion. "I think we tried to put a bit too much process into the stores. We have to reflect what food the customers want. As we evolve our store design, we have to do it in a way that resonates with people.

"We have made mistakes in the past that we need to correct, but the fundamentals are fantastic," he said

At present, Starbucks designs stores with colours and furniture from a central corporate palette, a technique that has speeded its sprint to 16,000 outlets worldwide.

However, trading in the UK is tough for the world's biggest coffee chain. Although the number of customers has risen, spend per customer has fallen "by a little".

After taking over the UK business last August, Mr Willson-Rymer consulted with the company's 9,000 staff about how to take the business forward.

"At the end of that eight-week period, when people asked me, 'give me your summary', I said: 'The business is run 80 per cent heart and 20 per cent head and we tried to flip it on its head'. I don't know what the right proportion is, but I believe that the heart is back in the company."

The revamp fits into a global plan to make Starbucks less corporate. In its home city, Seattle, it has opened a store without its usual branding, '15th Ave. Coffee and Tea Inspired by Starbucks' – which also serves beer and wine.

Although there is no sign customers here will be able to order a rioja rather than a grande latte, the cafés will look different. "We're working through what we need to do specifically for the UK market, but it's this notion that there isn't a single palette. In every store, there will be something that is locally relevant," said Mr Willson-Rymer.

"The thing that needs to be the same in every store is the latte, the cappuccino, the product and the culture of coffee tastings and the knowledge."

In response to complaints about its calorific cakes and paninis, porridge and carrot sticks are being trialled. Next week, Starbucks will announce holders of its loyalty cards will receive free Wi-Fi.

The changes are intended to make a deeper connection with customers amid intense rivalry for discretionary spending in the recession. Unlike in the US, Starbucks in Britain faces stiff competition from Costa Coffee, and is being undercut by cheaper coffees from McDonald's and Wetherspoon pubs.

The firm has been accused of siting homogeneous outlets in high streets across the UK. "What we did was set the standard, then we allowed people to catch us up," said Mr Willson-Rymer.

Starbucks in numbers

16,120 number of cafés worldwide

49 countries with Starbucks

172,000 workforce worldwide

1998 year Starbucks opened in UK

11,000 outlets in US; there are also 1,000 in Canada and 800 in Japan

750 stores in Britain and Ireland, its biggest market in Europe

2 million UK customers served weekly

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Service Charge Accountant

    30,000 to 35,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: We are currently recruiting on...

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain