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

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
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits