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USA Today has an interview this morning with Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. Noting that the company has grown from a single unit opened in 1971 to its current fleet of 6,800 stores around the world, the paper points out that the company recently posted its 140th consecutive month of sales growth at stores open at least a year. "It has done this by offering — in addition to its ever-expanding menu of coffee and tea drinks — an eclectic array of products and services, including music CDs, board games, wireless Internet access and prepaid cards to its 25 million repeat customers. And while most companies are just thinking about refilling jobs vacant from the raft of layoffs the past three years, Starbucks is hiring 200 people a day," USAToday writes.

Among the more interesting comments made by Schultz:

  • "I don't think we're halfway to the total number of stores we'll have in North America when it's said and done. We're opening three to four new stores a day; we've committed to open at least 1,300 stores next year. These are still the early days in the growth and development of Starbucks — I have no doubt in my mind…We'll finish this year with more than $4 billion in revenue. We're now the largest brand of coffee as a result. But we have less than 7% share of total coffee consumption in North America. We have less than 1% outside of North America. The size of the prize is so big.

  • What I'm most proud of over the past 15 years is that Starbucks has integrated a social conscience in all parts of our business. That's one reason we've done so well.

    We're living in a time where the consumer is doing something they've never done before. They're performing their own audit, a cultural audit of what a company stands for. That cultural audit has to do with your culture, your values, how you take care of your people, are you giving back to the community and how you're serving the greater good.

  • The Starbucks card now accounts for more than 10% of all sales. A new card coming this fall will be the first of its kind of a two-in-one card, which is a Starbucks card and a Visa credit card. You will be able to use the Visa credit card anywhere in the world. When you do that, there is a rewards program built into the card, which is applied to your Starbucks purchase.

  • Regarding the installation of Wi-Fi wireless Internet service in Starbucks stores. "I get the Wi-Fi results weekly, but I've now asked for them daily because the traction is taking hold. What I'm interested by is the increase in the number of minutes people are staying on. I'm a big believer in the technology…We're getting incremental traffic, which is adding to the positive aspect of the technology. People are staying more, and sometimes buying more coffee. But we don't mind (if they don't)... I want people to have a great experience at Starbucks, and we think Wi-Fi adds that."

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