Starbucks sees China surpassing the U.S. as its largest market within a decade as it counts on the country’s affluent consumers to offset stagnant growth in the rest of the world.
On Wednesday, Starbucks is opening its biggest cafe in the world in Shanghai. The 30,000 square-feet store — about half the size of a soccer field — is part of upscale moves championed by founder and Chairman Howard Schultz. Customers at the cavernous new outlet on the West Nanjing Road shopping strip can watch beans being roasted, sample high-end brews and use a Starbucks augmented-reality digital app to interact with the store.
The roaster also plans to roll out mobile ordering and delivery of drinks and store goods in China, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson said in an interview in Shanghai. The company will team up with a strategic partner to help it with the service, he said.
The Seattle-based company is homing in on its fastest-growing market as it searches for ways to kick-start sluggish global sales after saturating the U.S. with lattes and cappuccinos. Three years after the company opened its first roastery on its home turf, Starbucks is testing the larger, upmarket store concept overseas for the first time in China, where it currently has 3,000 sites.
“It’s obvious to us that the holding power of China for Starbucks is going to be much more significant than the holding power of the U.S.,” Schultz said Tuesday at a briefing to unveil the new cafe. China is on course to be the company’s largest market in less than a decade, he added.
China is becoming crucial for Starbucks. Same-store sales gained 8 percent in the country during the most recent quarter, compared with 2 percent globally. Revenue from the Asia-Pacific region accounted for almost 15 percent of Starbucks’ revenue for the fiscal year ended in October. That’s up from 5.5 percent five years earlier.
The coffee chain would be the latest to jump onto the delivery bandwagon in a country where everything from fresh produce to forklifts can be purchased online and delivered the same day. Starbucks is exploring “a range of options” for delivery, said Johnson, who declined to specify when…