Starbucks China Announces First-of-a-Kind Partner Development Program

Speaking to 360 partners from the China Southwest and Central region, the president of Starbucks China highlighted the unparalleled steps Starbucks is taking to innovate the customer and partner (employee) experience and celebrated this commitment with opening of the Chengdu Taikoo Li store which puts the coffee experience at the forefront for customers. In a message that was webcast which across the country, Belinda Wong also announced an enhanced partner experience through new opportunities with the launch of the new Starbucks Talent Exchange Program.

Elevating the Starbucks Experience for Customers

Nestled in the recently opened Chengdu Taikoo Li retail and entertainment district, the Starbucks flagship store is designed to honor the vibrant culture in Chengdu and Starbucks rich coffee heritage with Starbucks Reserve™ Coffee – a range of rare and exquisite, small-lot arabica coffees from around the world. The design of the new store features Sichuan-inspired tiles, silk artwork by local craftsmen, and a warm wood tone interior, which is similar to the materials used in the recent refurbishment of the nearby historic Daci Temple, a key cultural landmark in Chengdu.

“The store is the first flagship store in our fast-growing China Southwest and Central region and reflects on our coffee passion,” said Wong. “This is a reflection of our continued focus to highlight our coffee passion and create a locally-relevant Starbucks Experience through each moment of connection for our customers.”

Demonstrating an unparalleled passion for coffee and a high-level of artisanal coffee expertise, all partners at the store are Starbucks Coffee Masters. These baristas have completed a rigorous certification process and have earned the distinguished Black Apron after an intensive coffee skills and knowledge training. Currently, there are 6,000 Coffee Masters in China.

Located in a three-story building, the first floor features an exclusive Starbucks ReserveCoffee interactive bar to facilitate customer engagement with Starbucks Coffee Masters. The second floor reflects Starbucks global coffeehouse culture with plush custom seating for customers to connect with friends and family over a cup of coffee. The third, or loft, floor provides a space for large gatherings and star-gazing in the evenings through the exposed terra cotta ceiling.

The store is the company’s eighth Starbucks Reserve™ store in China since bringing the program to the market in October 2014 and was designed by Starbucks China Design Studio, one of eighteen in-house international Starbucks design offices across the globe.

Enhancing Partner Investments to Further Personal Aspirations

The coffee passion, artisanal skills and expertise presented at the store require persistence by each Starbucks partner in their individual development journey. To further evolve their coffee and service expertise, as well as continue to enrich their experience working for the company, Starbucks will once again elevate its employer-of-choice proposition in China, with the introduction of the Starbucks Talent Exchange Program. Developed and designed specifically for Starbucks China retail partners, in 2015, eligible Starbucks partners will have the opportunity to apply for a work exchange program within China or internationally. Singapore will be the first international location to participate in the work exchange program with Starbucks China and the company is working to expand this new program across other key Starbucks markets.

“We heard from our partners that in addition to the ongoing professional and training development opportunities at Starbucks China University, their personal aspiration is to work and experience life in different cities in China, or in an overseas market,” said Angel Yu, vice-president, partner (human) resources, Starbucks China. “This special talent exchange program is part of our ongoing efforts to offer exciting opportunities for our retail partners to immerse in a different culture and to experience work and life outside of their comfort zone. Besides honing their interpersonal skills and broadening their horizons, we believe our partners will return home with life-changing experiences that will enhance their personal and career aspirations.”

Starbucks opened its first store in China in 1999, and since then has opened more than 1,400 stores across 84 cities with 25,000 partners who proudly wear the Starbucks green apron. As Starbucks China continues to grow and expand its store footprint, the company will continue to innovate and elevate the customer and partner experience.

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