Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX), the world's largest coffee-shop chain, plans to triple the size of its workforce and the number of its local network of shops by 2014.
The Seattle-based company, also expects to have 1,500 stores in more than over 70 Chinese cities by 2015, John Culver, head of Starbucks' China and Asia-Pacific business, said at the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Conference 2012.
Culver said Starbucks believes China will be its second-largest market by 2014.
We continue to see strong growth in China giving us even greater confidence in achieving our goal of building China as our largest market, outside of the U.S., by 2014, Culver said.
The coffee giant successfully entered 13 new Chinese cities during its fiscal year 2011, opening an average of one store every four days. At present, Starbucks has about 10,000 employees working in over 570 stores across 48 cities in the world's second-largest economy.
Culver said Starbucks will expand through smaller cities in China and said the company sees a tremendous opportunity to grow in the smaller cities.
We see tremendous opportunity to continue to grow in cities that we are currently in -- those tier one, tier two cities, Culver told Bloomberg. And also, thoughtfully to expand to tier two, tier three, tier four cities.
China's coffee shop market is forecast to surge 55 percent to 4.5 billion yuan ($714 million) in 2015 from 2.9 billion yuan last year, according to data from Euromonitor International.
China offers the highest financial return among all markets, Culver told Bloomberg. Revenue for the China/Asia-Pacific segment totaled $166.9 million in the quarter ended Jan. 1, compared with $2.6 billion in the America's segment.
Starbucks' operating margin for its China/Asia-Pacific business was 34.6 percent in the quarter, topping the 21.8 percent for its Americas segment, the company's filings showed.
Starbucks dominated China's coffee shop market with a 66.3 percent market share in 2010, data from Euromonitor. Whitbread PLC showed.
Shares of Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) rose 0.71 percent, to $56.29 a share in early Monday morning trading.