Starbucks eliminates 600 positions

by Allison Sebolt
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SEATTLE — Starbucks Coffee Co. has announced it is eliminating about 600 positions in an effort to manage resources effectively.

"We realize that we are operating in an intensely challenging environment, one in which our customers and partners have extremely high expectations of Starbucks," said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer, in an e-mail to the company’s employees. "And we have to step up to the challenge of being strategic as well as nimble as our business evolves. Unfortunately, we have not been organized in a manner that allowed us to have a laser focus on the customer."

The 600 positions includes about 220 support staff in non-retail roles who were laid off and about 380 open jobs that will remain unfilled.

In addition, Starbucks announced it is transitioning from two divisions to four, with the new divisions being Western/Pacific, Northwest/Mountain, Southeast/Plains and Northeast/Atlantic.

"Not only will this organization structure create more capacity for our field teams, it will enable the company to align our leaders closer to our customers and partners," Mr. Schultz said. "This will ensure a stronger level of support in partner development, coaching and accountability in the field. Establishing a customer-centric field support structure in the U.S. business enables our field teams to focus on our partners, customers and our coffee."

The company also said Mr. Schultz will outline five initiatives at the company’s annual meeting on March 19.

Other recently announced changes at Starbucks include plans to discontinue warm breakfast sandwiches in U.S. stores and plans to provide free wireless Internet service in stores.

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