Former Starbucks chairman tips partnership with Alibaba

Outgoing Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has hinted at a potential partnership with e-commerce behemoth Alibaba to boost the chain’s online coffee sales.

The comments come after recent speculation on flat sales growth in the firm’s China business, which had a negative impact on its share price. Schultz expressed no concern at the “short-term” figures.

“I will say, unequivocally, that anyone who is betting against Starbucks in China is dead wrong,” he said, adding that he expects China to overtake the US as the brand’s top market. Starbucks plans to double its number of cafes in China to 6000 by 2022.

Regarding potential cooperation with Alibaba, the long-time Starbucks chairman said: “I have been very dear and close friends with Jack Ma for many, many years… and suffice to say there will be news coming that will relate to our plans for accelerating and integrating mobile commerce at a higher level into our core business.”

Starbucks currently has no online delivery platform of its own in China. Alibaba’s Ele.me is one of the two biggest operators in food delivery in the Chinese market along with Meituan-Dianping, backed by Tencent Holdings.

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