Starbucks unveiling eco-friendly store designs
Starbucks has a new formula for its new stores: they're to be environmentally friendly, be made with local materials and have looks that reflect their neighborhoods.
Seattle Times business reporter
Starbucks is opening far fewer stores than it used to, and it has come up with a new formula for them. The chain of more than 16,000 stores wants its new locations to be environmentally friendly, to be made with local materials and to have new looks that reflect their neighborhoods.
The first example opened in March across the street from Pike Place Market in Seattle. A second design was unveiled at Paris Disney Village this month, and on Tuesday Starbucks will reopen a store in Seattle's University Village with a third look.
The remodeled coffeehouse near Pike Place Market — once a Seattle's Best Coffee, also owned by Starbucks — has a rustic feel, featuring burlap coffee-bean sacks, a coffee bar with scrap leather from shoe and automobile factories, a long "community table" from a local restaurant and cabinets made from fallen trees in Seattle.
Ann Holstrom, a self-proclaimed Starbucks lover, prefers its earlier designs.
"This looks almost like it's canned to go with Pike Place Market," she said. "There's something about the other ones that seemed artsy."
Holstrom particularly liked the inside of the first Starbucks store she ever visited, which was in Boston during the late 1990s. "I loved the interior then; it felt really international," she said.
Starbucks will have more chances to impress her, because its new designs will vary as it tailors them to fit with their surroundings.
It could take a while for the changes to be noticed, given how few new stores Starbucks is opening.
After launching eight stores a day in its heyday, the chain plans to have only 20 net new stores this fiscal year, because it will close almost as many stores as it opens.
The new designs are for stores that it runs directly, rather than relying on a corporate partner like a grocery store or airport vendor. Starbucks will seek LEED certification — an indication of environmental friendliness — for all new company-owned stores beginning next year.
At the Paris Disney Village store, materials came from reclaimed Champagne racks and recycled mobile-phone parts.
The remodeled store at University Village, which reopens Tuesday, has cabinets and wall fixtures made from Douglas fir reclaimed from school bleachers. Its exterior includes redwood siding reclaimed from hop-vine poles in Eastern Washington.
"Ultimately, we hope customers will feel an enhanced sense of community, a deeper connection to our coffee heritage and a greater level of commitment to environmental consciousness," Starbucks' president of global development, Arthur Rubinfeld, said in a release. He is credited with creating Starbucks' look in the early 1990s and returned to Starbucks last year shortly after Howard Schultz resumed the CEO role.
Connie Denevan, a visitor to Seattle whose daughter works for Starbucks in South Dakota, said she enjoyed a coffee display with information about processing and roasting at the store near Pike Place Market.
"I never knew the beans were green before they're processed," she said.
The new designs aren't likely to move Starbucks' stock price, although it was up more than 4 percent on Thursday as retailers helped lead a market rally after Bed, Bath & Beyond posted better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Starbucks shares closed up 63 cents at $14.84; over the past year it has traded between $7.06 and $17.29 a share.
Sharon Zackfia, an analyst at William Blair & Co., said the new designs are "good around the edges, but there are so many moving parts from a stock perspective." She is more interested in what appears to be recent improvement in consumer confidence and the work Starbucks is doing in "lean labor."
Starbucks has cut about 18,400 U.S. jobs since early 2008, including hundreds in Seattle and thousands at stores it's closing around the country. The chain still has about 3,000 headquarters employees in Seattle.
The store closures and layoffs are part of Starbucks' effort to revive its sales and profit, which have suffered in a recession that has taken a big bite out of retailers.
In its most recent quarter, the coffee giant's profit fell 77 percent to $25 million and sales dropped 8 percent to $2.3 billion.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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