Starbucks eyes juice-bar business
Expanding the cafe menu could help bring more afternoon traffic and repeat customers.
The New York Post reports that Starbucks has just hired Yohana Bencosme, the former manager of the trendy Manhattan juice bar Liquiteria. Bencosme's new job is to train staffers in Starbucks' Seattle headquarters.
One source tells the Post that Starbucks' chief executive, Howard Schultz, made many visits to Liquiteria and other juice bars in the area. "He spent a lot of time checking out the juices," the source says. "Then he went in for the kill and hired Yohana."
The owner of Liquiteria confirmed the news, saying Bencosme was like his daughter. "He befriended us, asked about our concept, then took her. It is a huge slap in the face."
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The same source says Schultz wants to add pressed-juice "grab and go" bars to his cafes. Starbucks investors seemed to shrug at the news. Shares were down less than 1% Thursday to $41.26.
Starbucks is massively expanding its supermarket business, with ambitious plans to add a number of billion-dollar brands to grocery store shelves. But we haven't heard much about moves to change its cafes.
Would juice bars make sense at Starbucks? The very idea triggered a 3.5% drop in the stock price of Jamba Juice owner Jamba (JMBA) on Thursday.
Starbucks is desperate to bring in more afternoon traffic and even offers an afternoon discount to morning customers in many areas. Smoothies and other juice items would help draw the lunch and afternoon crowds. They would also appeal to children.
Starbucks has experimented with other beverages and has opened some cafes more focused on beer and wine. So it makes sense that the company would give serious thought to smoothies and juices.
I guess it would depend on what Starbuck's decided to add to their menu. I can't say its a terrible idea, because it would probably not only appeal to their already existant customer base, but maybe attract non coffee drinkers, and as this article says, possibly kids. I have always thought Starbuck's was WAY overpriced. I personally would just go to Jamba juice if i wanted a smoothie.
If Starbucks chooses to provide fresh prepared Juices/Smoothies made from real fresh fruits and veggies, they may grab a market that currently has few choices and would love to have a fresh juice any time of day.
If they go the Jamba Juice route with high sugar smoothies, they may not get it.
We shall see...
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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