Starbucks China Partners with Sequoia Capital China to Accelerate the Pace of Retail Innovation

Flagship store in China

Partnership taps into technology companies to elevate China’s coffee and retail industry

Today, Starbucks announced a strategic partnership with leading investment firm, Sequoia Capital China to tap into China’s growing technology landscape. Through the partnership, Starbucks will make strategic co-investments with Sequoia Capital China, and commercial partnerships with next-generation food and retail technology companies to propel Starbucks digital innovation in China. The partnership marks Starbucks latest move in its long-term commitment to growing the coffee and retail industry in China, one of its two lead growth markets alongside the U.S.

“Starbucks has an insatiable appetite for innovative ideas that augment the Starbucks Experience and keep it at the forefront of China’s retail landscape,” said Belinda Wong, chairman and chief executive officer, Starbucks China. “China’s vibrant environment is a rich ground for entrepreneurship that has seen the emergence of many local innovators that we hugely admire. The partnership enables Starbucks to tap into the most dynamic Chinese technology entrepreneurs in order to delight our customers with meaningful innovations created in China, for China.”

The collaboration with Sequoia Capital China enables early access to ideas in the retail marketplace, creating opportunities for strategic investment to evolve Starbucks business in China. Beyond the direct benefits from this collaboration, Starbucks also hopes to leverage its retail expertise, scale and infrastructure to help realize the growth aspirations of like-minded purpose-driven companies that have a passion for leading positive change for customers and communities.

“We are thrilled to partner with Starbucks, one of the leading retailers in China with unmatched market presence, strong culture of innovation, and deep insights into the Chinese consumer landscape,” said Neil Shen, Steward of Sequoia Capital, and the Founding and Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital China. “The partnership presents an exciting platform for our portfolio companies to test, commercialize and scale new innovations for China. Together with Starbucks, we look forward to bringing the digital transformation of consumer retail industry in China to the next level.”

Through the partnership with Sequoia Capital China, Starbucks will explore opportunities to embed digital technologies across all dimensions of its retail business to harness the power of data-driven analytics, modelling and decision making. These may entail adopting creative solutions to enhance front- and back-of-house operations, such as the use of machine learning and predictive intelligence tools in managing Starbucks growing retail operations in China, or the optimization of Starbucks supply chain through precise, real-time inventory management.

“Starbucks strategic partnership with Sequoia Capital China adds another powerful engine to drive our relentless pursuit of digital innovation around the world. Together with Valor Siren Ventures launched in the U.S. last year, we are excited to tap the tremendous energy of technology entrepreneurs from two of the world’s largest and most dynamic markets, to pioneer innovative solutions that could reimagine the global retail landscape,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks.

Last month, the Company announced its plans to build a Coffee Innovation Park in China to extend its global roasting network and lay a foundation for continued business growth and development. In addition, last week, Starbucks also advanced the company’s global planet positive aspirations with the launch of a plant-based platform in China, including a new food and beverage menu.