SEATTLE Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday it will close 600 company-operated stores in the next year, up dramatically from its previous plan for 100 closures, a sign the coffee shop operator continues to struggle with the faltering U.S. economy and its own rapid expansion.
Seventy percent of the stores slated for closure had opened after the start of 2006, the company said in a statement.
To put it another way, Starbucks is closing 19 percent of all U.S. company-operated stores that opened in the last two years, Chief Financial Officer Pete Bocian said during a conference call.
About 12,000 workers, or 7 percent of Starbucks' global work force, will be affected by the closings, which are expected to take place between late July and the middle of 2009, spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil said.
O'Neil said most employees will be moved to nearby stores, but she did not know exactly how many jobs will be lost. Starbucks estimated $8 million in severance costs.
In total, the company forecast up to $348 million in charges related to the closures, $200 million to be booked in the fiscal third quarter ended June 30. Starbucks reports third-quarter results at the end of July.
The 500 additional stores set to be closed had been on an internal watch list for some time. They were not profitable, not expected to be profitable in the foreseeable future, and the "vast majority" had been opened near an existing company-operated Starbucks, Bocian said.
Some analysts had wondered whether Starbucks' explosive growth in the U.S. would come back to haunt it as the market became saturated. But before Tuesday, the company avoided acknowledging that saturation was an issue, and pinned weak financial results and adjustments to new store openings on the economy.
During the call, Bocian said that between 25 and 30 percent of a Starbucks shop's revenue is cannibalized when a new store opens nearby.