Starbucks boss interviewed on American TV

16 December 2008 by
Starbucks boss interviewed on American TV

One, which many in and outside the coffee trade have asked, was: "Why do you have to have sizes like grande and venti? Why can't you say small, medium and large like normal people?"

Howard Schulz relpied that he had seen the words in Italy and that they seemed to make sense, adding: "people tell me there are over 70,000 different ways that our customers can, and do, order a Starbucks coffee."

A very practical question concerning current performance, and the closure of 600 under-performing cafes, was whether Starbucks had grown too big, too fast.

In hindsight, Schultz conceded, that was correct adding: "I don't think we had a business plan for the severity of what has taken place. History demonstrated to us that a downturn in the economy would not affect us, and in fact, that we would be recession-proof."

Howard Schultz also said that he now regrets some of his past moves, such as turning to highly-automated espresso machines, and replacing couches with tables and chairs to accommodate more customers.

"Those changes should not have been made," he said, adding that he made the changes because cafes could not cope with the number of customers, and that this had resulted in complaints about Starbucks' speed of service.

He has, of course, already acknowledged that losing the theatre of manual espresso machines was mistake.

And yet, he told the American TV audience, even a recession brings opportunities.

"Great opportunities can be, and have been, created during tough economic times. And, this may sound a bit naÁ¯ve but I got here, personally, by believing in big dreams."

Coffee shops more popular than pubs for catching up>>

Starbucks blames UK for flat international sales>>

By Ian Boughton

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