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Starbucks plans to close up to 200 Canadian locations over 2 years


Starbucks said it typically closes about 100 company-operated stores each year in North America, mainly due to leases expiring. (Photo: Starbucks.ca)

TORONTO — Starbucks is planning to close up to 200 coffee shops across Canada as it responds to changes of consumer habits in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Seattle-based chain is restructuring its company-operated business in Canada under a two-year plan.

The details were included in a letter to shareholders filed on Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“As our business recovery continues, we are now laying the foundation for a more transformational phase — ‘restore and build resilience’ — enabling us to accelerate the transformation of our business,” the company explained to shareholders.

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Starbucks said it typically closes about 100 company-operated stores each year in North America, mainly due to leases expiring. The latest round of closures would surpass that figure in Canada alone.

Some of the Canadian stores up for closure will be “repositioned,” the company said, which suggests they could either move to a new area or change format.

Experimentation with pick-up only

The company has been experimenting with locations that are pick-up only coffee shops. The first Canadian Starbucks store using the new format launched in January in Toronto.

“These test stores have provided us with insights into how we can optimally integrate this new format with nearby cafe locations,” the company said.

“While we had originally planned to execute this strategy over a three- to five-year timeframe, rapidly evolving customer preferences hasten the need for this concept and we are now envisioning the accelerated development of Starbucks Pickup stores… including retrofitting and repositioning many existing cafes to expand our store portfolio with a mix of appropriate store formats.”

Starbucks said while it still plans to open more new locations in other parts of the world, including China, it was pulling back on structural growth in North America.

The company plans to add 300 new stores this year, a more restrained target than its initial 600 locations, but it’ll come with the closure of up to 400 company-operated stores over the next 18 months.