Cliff Burrows

12 May 2005
Cliff Burrows

Overall ranking: 49

Restaurateurs ranking: 15


Cliff Burrows is the managing director of Starbucks Coffee Company UK, the leading player in the £1b branded coffee bar market in the UK. The company, which has more than 430 stores and around 5,500 staff, takes a 17.8% slice of the market.

It's a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starbucks Corporation of the USA which, since its formation in 1971, has opened more than 9,000 venues in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. In 2004, the corporation reported net earnings in excess of $390m (£207m) on sales 30% ahead at $5.3b (£2.8b). The UK arm was forecast to turn over £220m in 2004.

Career guide

Burrows, who was born in Zambia and educated in London, started his career as a management trainee with Littlewoods plc.

He then spent 19 years with furnishings retailer Habitat, where he became managing director responsible for its UK and European retail and franchise business. For seven years of this period he worked for Habitat subsidiary Heals.

He joined Starbucks in May 2001.

What we think

Starbucks crashed into the fledgling UK coffee bar market in 1998 when it snapped up the Seattle Coffee Company which had been founded by Ally and Scott Svenson in 1995.

Its £50.8m acquisition of Seattle's 65 stores made it the UK's second largest player after Whitbread's Costa Coffee. Steady growth, including the acquisition of eight Madison's sites in London in 2001, bumped its numbers up to 370 venues in 2003 to make it the market leader.

Starbucks is the fastest-growing company in the sector and has increased its market share by 4.8% since December 2001. It looks set to continue expanding at a rate of 50 sites per year, primarily in the suburbs of London and the provinces.

Like other operators in the market, Starbucks has forged strategic partnerships to increase its market penetration. They include Sainsbury's supermarkets and Borders bookshops, where Starbucks has opened 30 concessions across each chain.

The expansion of its food offer, including the recent introduction of the Simply Delicious range, has helped boost average spend in stores. In January 2004, the group made its first foray into mainland Europe, opening two stores in Paris with joint venture partner Grupo Vips.

Starbucks, which enjoys a 92.3% brand recognition, is popular with younger customers and, like Caffé Nero, is wooing the techno-generation by installing Wi-Fi wireless internet facilities into its stores.

Starbucks, like its peers, faces mounting competition from in-store restaurants, the Marks & Spencer Café Revive brand, and even pubs such as JD Wetherspoon.

The annual Allegra report into the coffee bar market identifies key opportunities for Starbucks to grow through existing and new partners, franchising and licensing of its products to sell in supermarkets, and wholesale coffee sales through the "We proudly brew Starbucks" concept.

The group's biggest threat lies in a potential consumer backlash against its ubiquitous presence in the high street allied to its corporate US image. Like fast-food giant McDonald's it has attracted the fury of the anti-globalists and spawned its own hate website.

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