The Only Country Where Every Starbucks Store Is Company-Owned

Starbucks is famous for a few things: Drinks made of more milk and sugar than coffee, the iconic mermaid logo, and a categorical refusal to franchise. "To me, franchisees are middlemen who would stand between us and our customer... If we had franchised [as some executives wanted to in the 1980s], Starbucks would have lost the common culture that made us strong," explained former CEO Howard Schultz in his 1997 memoir (via Business Insider).

The coffee company does, however, license a large number of its stores in the United States. This allows Starbucks to maintain control over their image and operations, while also bringing in additional revenue and expansion possibilities (per Forbes). Licensed locations in grocery stores and various airports have boosted sales and held onto return customers through expansion of the company's hugely popular loyalty rewards program, Starbucks Connect (via Insider).

Licensing aside, company owned Starbucks locations are still a cornerstone of the business, but according to CNBC, only 59% of Starbucks stores in North America fit this criteria. Would you believe that there is one country where Starbucks stores are not only 100% company owned, but also make up 15% of the company's global net revenue, per CNBC?

China is Starbucks' secret powerhouse

Starbucks opened its first store in China in 1999 in Beijing, and now owns 6,000 stores in mainland China across more than 230 cities, employing over 60,000 partners, according to Starbucks' website. When the company first launched in China, a bold strategic move, they tweaked their menu to focus on products that mirrored local food and beverage traditions tailored to each region, and forged strategic partnerships with local companies like Beijing Mei Da, Uni-President, and Maxim's Caterers (via Forbes). In 2017, Starbucks bought out its joint venture partner in China for $1.3 billion, assuming full ownership of (at the time) around 1,300 stores, in addition to the 1,500 it already owned outright (via BBC).

Starbucks has opened coffee bean farms in China, bringing on local coffee growers to secure their supply chain and develop interest in the growing Chinese coffee market (via Wall Street Journal). By 2020, Starbucks made up 36.4% of the freshly ground coffee market in China (per Statista). According to Reuters, Starbucks announced in September 2022 that it planned to have 9,000 stores in China by 2025, which would mean the company would have to open a new store every nine hours for three years. You certainly can't doubt their commitment to keeping Asia curated and caffeinated.