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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us