Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ:SBUX) today held its Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Seattle, where Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO, outlined the company’s strategy to grow for the long term.

“Despite the challenging economic environment, Starbucks is profitable, has a strong balance sheet, and generates solid cash from operations,” Schultz says. “Our customers’ connection with, and trust in the Starbucks brand remains at a high level. We are laser-focused on delivering the finest quality coffee and getting the customer experience right every time.”

During the Annual Meeting, Troy Alstead, executive vice president, chief financial officer, and chief administrative officer, underscored the company’s strong financial position and outlined a two-fold growth strategy for the company.

Starbucks has focused its attention on increasing profits in existing stores by:

  • Aligning the company’s cost structure to its current business strategy with a planned $500 million structural expense reduction in fiscal 2009
  • Improving operational efficiencies and making technology investments
  • Meeting customers’ needs for value and quality
  • Investing in the tools and training store managers need

The company is also making strategic investments in key initiatives by:

  • Entering the $17 billion instant coffee market earlier this month with the launch of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew instant coffee
  • Growing its consumer products, licensed stores, and foodservice channels
  • Focusing on disciplined global store expansion in key markets

“Our customers like the changes we’ve been making, even as the economic environment is impacting the way customers interact with companies and brands,” Schultz says. “The health of the company, the continued relevance of the brand, and our disciplined go-forward plan make us optimistic about Starbucks’ future.”

As part of the meeting, shareholders re-elected the current board members as well as two new board members, Kevin R. Johnson, chief executive officer of Juniper Networks Inc.; and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. to the Starbucks Board of Directors. Both individuals have strong technology backgrounds and bring extensive business strategy and operational execution experience, as well as expertise in managing a high-performance business with a diverse and global workforce.

Finance, News, Starbucks