Community at heart as Starbucks opens 400th outlet in KSA


July 27, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Global café chain Starbucks, part of Alshaya Group in the region, recently opened its 400th store in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Ever since its debut in the Kingdom in 2000, Starbucks has been committed to serving and connecting with the local communities.

In line with Saudi Vision 2030, the company has been investing heavily in its partners (employees) and in new stores, including the first Starbucks Reserve store that opened in Jeddah in May 2023. What’s more, in January this year, the Saudi Ministry of Culture also recognised Starbucks as a key contributor to the success of the ‘2022 Year of Saudi Coffee’.

“We are proud to mark the opening of 400 Starbucks stores in the Kingdom, which would not have been possible without the hard work of our partners (employees) and the support of the local communities we proudly serve. Reaching this milestone is a testament to our unmatched coffee expertise, commitment to bringing bold new beverage innovations to Arab coffee lovers and evolving our dynamic store concepts to meet our customers’ needs where they are. We have big ambitions to continue our accelerated growth in the Middle East, and this will be driven primarily through our ongoing investment in the recruitment, development and empowerment of young national talent,” said Andy Holmes, President of Starbucks, Alshaya Group.

Community at the forefront

“With every cup, with every conversation, with every community – we nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection” – that’s the Starbucks’ promise.

Alongside satiating the coffee-loving community in KSA, having a robust network of 400 stores also means significant employment generation.

In this context, Olena Lemeshko, Head of Integrated Marketing, Starbucks said, “Nationalisation and feminisation continue to be our main drivers. We have the ‘Injaz’ programme in place for young Saudi women, aimed at supporting them to enter the workforce.”

As such, nationalisation, empowerment and increased diversity of women in the workplace are at the heart of Starbucks’ regional recruitment plan. Through an active recruitment agenda, over half of Starbucks’ workforce is local talent and female, including its first all-female run drive thru location in Saudi which opened in June 2022.

“Additionally, we will also be embarking on internships across various functions that support workplace experience, particularly for Saudi nationals,” Lemeshko added.

In addition, Starbucks has planned a roster of initiatives to support the local communities by highlighting local musicians through its in-store music events, involving local artists to do in-store murals in selected stores for the Saudi National Day cup competition, among others.

Asked about some key sustainability initiatives that will be practiced across 400 Starbucks outlets in KSA, Lemeshko shared, “We have piloted our ‘Rewards’ campaign to promote the usage of multiuse drinkware, and we plan on repeating it. We supported the governmental initiative, the Environmental Week in March. And we also launched sustainable cups out of coffee beans, along with sustainable jute bags. In the pipeline are coffee grounds collection and repurposing.”

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