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Starbucks continues to grow relentlessly, with CEO Howard Schultz planning to open 500 new stores a year over the next five years. Much of this growth will happen in China, where Schulz is undeterred by the recent economic slowdown.
While many factors contribute to Starbucks’ immunity to economic trends, most are driven by Schultz. Starbucks’ massive size hasn’t stopped him from realizing his vision of creating a company that’s about much more than making money selling coffee; Schultz is committed to selling an experience and a lifestyle, both of which are inspired by a trip to Italy as a child, where he was drawn to the cafe scene.
Schultz is fiercely loyal to his values. When asked how he balances his values with strategic thinking, he said:
“Unfortunately, we live in a sea of mediocrity in all walks of life. We live amid a fracturing of civility. Everywhere we go as consumers, we’re getting people who don’t want to reach into our hearts or know who we are; they want to reach into our wallets and get some money. The only way we can succeed and sustain growth is linked to the basic elements of one cup of coffee, one customer, and one barista at a time.”