LONDON – 25 years ago, England’s famed capital city became home to the first Starbucks store in the United Kingdom – and the first in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. Fast forward to today, and Starbucks now spans over 1,200 stores across the country, welcoming millions of customers every year.
So it is only fitting that London serves as the location for the greatest gathering of the UK’s green apron partners (employees) for the first time ever. This week, over 1,500 store managers from across the UK came together for the inaugural Limitless Conference: A two-day event designed to inspire and capture a unifying vision for the future – embedding Starbucks new mission, while celebrating 25 years of connection over coffee.
Here are a few of the highlights from the Starbucks UK Limitless 2023 Store Manager Conference, held in East London’s Tobacco Dock.
It’s only the beginning
On Monday 2 October, the event officially kicked off with a welcome for over 1,500 store managers from company-operated and licensed stores across the UK – plus field managers, regional leaders, and the international senior leadership team.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Starbucks without a coffee tasting to kick off the day. Hosted by Ishan Natalie, Teddy Nzama, and Phuti Mmotla – a.k.a Starbucks South Africa’s Black Apron Coffee Masters Squad - this was a coffee tasting with a twist, featuring a soul-stirring performance by the Gospel Truth Choir. Ishan, Teddy and Phuti shared their mission to strengthen coffee knowledge and passion in their every day, inspiring us all and setting us up for the day ahead.
Led by partners, for partners
Partners heard from Lisa Robbins, vp of Partner Resources EMEA, and Sara Williams, director of PRO UK, who spoke about the importance of improving partner experience so that our partners can thrive – in stores, as individuals and together. Core to this is ensuring that Starbucks is a place where all are welcome, our partners feel a sense of belonging, and they can show up as their authentic self.
Mastering your craft
At Starbucks, coffee is at the heart of everything we do, inspiring our craft and driving beverage innovation every day. But has this ever been illustrated through the art of ballet?! Partners were blown away by an interactive dance session which brought this to life for our partners by dancers John Michael Schert and Brett Perry.
Celebrating the power of coffee
Day 2 kicked off with a coffee tasting led by master roaster Oscar Manuel Quintana Hernandez, setting the tone for the day, connecting partners, and celebrating the power of coffee.
Michelle Chin, vp marketing, product, digital & sustainability EMEA and Sarah Harris, director marketing, product & digital UK continued with this theme, looking at how we navigate a competitive coffee market, build momentum and trust in the brand; while recognising the importance of Gen Z’s passions – as our future customers and partners.
Giving back more than we take
Jacqui Wetherly, sustainability director UK, then encouraged us to ‘think big and think bigger’ and talked partners through ways we can contribute positively to the communities we serve, and work towards our ambitious sustainability goal of giving back more than we take by 2050. These include initiatives such as opening more greener stores, as well as starting new initiatives with our suppliers and ensuring sustainable futures for our dairy farmers.
The event concluded on Tuesday evening with an inspirational closing led by Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Starbucks. Laxman talked about his big ambitions for the UK business in elevating the brand to reinforce our core experience, and ensuring our stores reflect our core values. He reiterated our need to strengthen and scale our digital offering and digital customer experience, unlock efficiencies, foster our partner culture around human connection, and to think of our business with a truly global mindset.
He closed by noting the importance of courage from our partners, the importance of belonging, in providing warm and welcoming stores, and finally the importance of joy. He wisely reminded us all to feel joy in our day-to-day work and reflect on our limitless opportunities.
Here’s 25 years of Starbucks in the UK by numbers:
Over 3,000,000,000 drinks served to customers.
More than 2,000,000,000 customers served.
Over 16,000 green apron partners.
Oldham, Greater Manchester becomes the 20,000th Starbucks store to open outside of North America.
Over 1200 stores across the UK and counting!
Celebrating 10 years of Starbucks UK Apprentice Programme and Barista Championships.