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Starbucks CEO scales down goal of opening 1,000 Reserve cafes

Starbucks Corp. CEO Kevin Johnson is curbing plans of opening about 1,000 Starbucks Reserve stores, which had been part of former CEO Howard Schultz's vision for the coffee chain, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 7, citing an interview.

Starbucks Reserve cafes serve artisanal baked goods, cocktails and more expensive coffee brewed using the latest techniques. Customers can expect the same at the company's Roastery stores, which is part of the Reserve store format and where employees would also roast the coffee.

Johnson, who took the helm at Starbucks in April 2017 after Schultz stepped down from the role, described the target as an "aspiration" and said they would see whether six to 10 Reserve stores can meet the returns needed before building more, the report said.

Starbucks unveiled its plan to open 20 to 30 Roastery cafes and 1,000 Reserve stores and to add Starbucks Reserve bars at 20% of all Starbucks stores at an investor day presentation in December 2016.

The plan also included opening 1,000 stand-alone Princi bakeries around the world, according to the newspaper. Starbucks acquired the global license for the Italian bakery brand in 2016 and made it the exclusive food purveyor for the company's Roastery and Reserve store formats.

According to the Journal, only three stand-alone Princi stores have opened in the U.S. since 2016.

Meanwhile, Starbucks runs a Roastery in Seattle, Shanghai, Milan and New York.

The executive is working to improve customer service and is pushing Starbucks to develop more innovative beverages and expanding its reach in China, the report said. In November 2018, the company expanded its delivery service in China through, a unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., to 1,100 stores. Starbucks also previously tapped Alibaba to develop an in-store augmented reality experience in its Shanghai Roastery.

Johnson said he is trying to bring more financial discipline to the business and return more cash to shareholders, according to the report.

In an email to the Journal, Schultz, who resigned as chairman in June 2018, said the company "is in great hands with Kevin."