On October 11, Starbucks China announced to employees that Belinda Wong, the chairwoman of the firm, was re-appointed as CEO, and Leo Tsoi, the current CEO, will serve as a consultant to the Chinese management team over the next three months. Leo will focus on store development, marketing and product innovation.
Belinda Wong served as President of Starbucks China from 2011 before being promoted to CEO of Starbucks China in 2016. Later, in 2019, she became the newly established chairwoman of Starbucks China. On October 1, 2021, she stepped down as CEO, and Leo Tsoi, then Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks China, assumed the role.
A year later, she returned to the position. Affected by the pandemic and other factors, Starbucks’ performance in China was somewhat difficult. Its report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 shows that the revenue in the Chinese market was $540 million, down 40% year-on-year. In addition, Starbucks’ same-store sales in China decreased by 44%, which was affected by a 43% drop in customer traffic and a 1% drop in average customer unit price.
According to Belinda Wong at the time, in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022, Starbucks’ operations in about 2,000 stores in nearly 50 cities in China were restricted due to pandemic prevention requirements. During the pandemic outbreak in Shanghai, about one-third of its stores were temporarily closed or only accepted take-out delivery orders.
On September 14, 2022, during its Investor Day event, the company released its strategic vision for China in 2025. It plans to open 3,000 more stores in China over the next three years at an average rate of one new store every nine hours, bringing the number of stores to 9,000.
While expanding its stores, Starbucks China aims to add 35,000 employees bringing the company’s total in the country to more than 95,000 employees. In addition, it is expected to achieve the growth target of doubling net revenue and quadrupling its profit. The strategic layout also includes the expansion of omni-channel sales and delivery business.
In the face of competition, Belinda Wong still expressed optimism at the company’s investment meeting, thinking that the entire coffee market in China is still in the early stages of development and has great potential. According to iiMedia, China’s coffee industry is rising at a growth rate of 27.2%, and it is estimated that the market size will reach 1,000 billion yuan ($139.5 billion) in 2025. As a result, Miss Wong believes Starbucks still has a large market space to explore.
In addition, according to Chinese media outlet Foodinc, Leo Tsoi, the current CEO of Starbucks China, plans to start a one-year “Coffee Holiday” after serving the company for 10 years. The “Coffee Holiday” is a unique employee benefit of Starbucks, and all employees who have worked in Starbucks for 10 years can apply.