Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fail

I'm not entirely surprised to hear that Starbucks are closing 60 plus stores in Australia, leaving only 23 to remain and no stores at all in some states. Australia had a very strong coffee and cafe culture long before Starbucks arrived, a culture that grew on the back of many waves of European migration. Migrants that introduced cappucinos and coffee machines from 1950s onwards, meaning that many of us grew up knowing what espressos, machiatos and lattes were.



I tried Starbucks a couple of times out of curiosity, but found the experience as unsatisfying as a trip to McDonalds. Acceptable, but kind of generic. Its consistency its shortcoming, rather than its strength. Not to say that plenty of people didn't get their coffees there, so it obviously appeals to some.

Then I heard that 600 stores are closing in the US. So the issue is likely one of economics, profitabilty, and possibly a market saturation policy that peaked and ultimately failed. Most of the Aussie stores will be closed in under a week, leaving an estimate of 600 staff unemployed, and many more in the US, which is the really sad part of the story. Closing a few unprofitable stores happens in any business chain, but such a large % seems to indicate a company in real trouble.

10 comments:

K-A said...

It is truly sad for those individuals who will lose their jobs, but I believe this is good for the independent cafe owner. As well the environment will benefit from the lack of corporate crap being produced, sold and eventually tossed out.

Thankfully where I live there are no Starbucks, but I often fear one will appear as several did one frightful day back home, in Savannah.

I may now relax a little and breathe a sigh of relief at our local coffee house knowing the misfortune of Starbuck’s means more money in the pockets of the local economy.

spyder said...

I kinda feel like dancing on the grave of an economic imperialist but I feel sorry for the poor buggers who have lost their job. Students and the not-so-skilled: it always seems to be the bottom of the food chain who cop it in the neck.

The Other Andrew said...

I do feel bad for the employees, but I hope that smaller independant operators can pick up some of the trade. Apparently a locally owned chain here "The Coffee Club" has suggested that Starbucks employees apply for positions with them. Most of the staff have been given less than a week's notice.

Lucky Pierre said...

I know that many people here in the US believe that Starbucks is evil, and I don't frequent them here in San Francisco. However, when visiting parts of this country that have no coffee culture, Starbucks is a godsend. Seriously, in the fly-over states hot brown water is considered coffee.

Also, I nearly cried with joy when I found Starbucks in Beijing, Bangkok and Tokyo.

The Other Andrew said...

Lucky, that's true - I must admit I went into Starbucks in Hong Kong only because I hadn't found a regular coffee shop. I'm sure there were some, but not as visible as here in Sydney for instance. Sydney has a real strong coffee culture, as do most Australian cities. (Thankfully)

Ur-spo said...

tea is the answer

ARJ said...

Having just driven 2500km through the US, though-- it is still one of the few places you can actually get something resembling an espresso in many parts of the US. I'm not ashamed to say we resorted to Starbuck's plenty of times when we needed that extra boost of caffeine for driving.

Still, the major cultural hurdle we had was trying to explain how a flat white is not really the same thing as a latte...

The Other Andrew said...

Arj, the first time I was in the US I made the mistake of asking for a 'long black'... raised an eyebrow, let me tell you.

Anonymous said...

I was kinda hoping that Gloria Jean's would go down before Starbucks, I dislike them much more...

Speedy

harry said...

I was thinking they did the sums and decided to convert property into cash what with the economy tanking and all....
Perhaps with "flying away to a non extraditable island" being an option for the top echelon of management.