On 21 March, Starbucks hosted its 27th annual meeting of shareholders, with nearly 4000 shareholders, partners, invited guests, and board members in attendance. Key presenters at the meeting included CEO and President Kevin Johnson, Americas Group President and Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Grismer, and Senior Vice President of Global Coffee & Tea Michelle Burns. “Starbucks is a different kind of company – and we have been since our founding,” Johnson says. “Our long-term plan for growth with focus and discipline is built on the acknowledgement that the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good. We are a part of millions of people’s everyday lives around the world, and I believe we are uniquely positioned to be one of the most enduring brands of all time.” Starbucks says brand endurance requires evolving with customer’s changing needs. To that end, Brewer revealed the company’s plans to reimagine its position as “a third place between work and home”, with a focus on three key attributes: convenience, comfort and connection. “I don’t want anyone to walk away today thinking this is about furniture or a new renovation strategy,” Brewer says. “Reimagining the third place is about listening to our customers, so we can better position our business now and for the future.” Starbucks aims to learn directly from its customers and adapt changes to new and better experiences using technology, product innovation, and reimagined store formats. The company also reiterated its commitment to the continued expansion and evolution of programs like Starbucks Delivers – now available in 12 countries – and Starbucks Rewards. “Our relationship with our customers starts the moment they think of Starbucks. They connect with us through their barista and the quality of what’s in the cup they take with them,” Brewer says. “Their third place is everywhere they’re holding our cup. No matter their journey, after leaving our stores, that feeling of comfort stays with them. And in an increasingly busy and on-demand world, it’s that feeling that keeps the third place growing.” Furthering its efforts to focus on new ideas and technologies, Starbucks announces an investment of US$100 million in Valor Siren Ventures.
Managed by Valor Equity Partners, the new fund will identify and invest in companies who are developing technologies, products, and solutions relating to food or retail. The investment is the first of its kind for Starbucks, and the new fund will seek to raise an additional US$300 million in the coming months from other strategic partners and key institutional investors. “We believe that innovative ideas are fuel for the future, and we continue to build on this heritage inside our company across beverage, experiential retail, and our digital flywheel,” Johnson says. “At the same time, and with an eye toward accelerating our innovation agenda, we are inspired by, and want to support the creative, entrepreneurial businesses of tomorrow with whom we may explore commercial relationships down the road. This new partnership with Valor presents exciting opportunities, not only for these startups, but also for Starbucks, as we build an enduring company for decades to come.”