MANILA, Philippines - Starbucks just opened its 200th store in the Philippines on Thursday, but the coffee giant's CEO and chairman Howard Schultz is already looking forward to opening a hundred more stores in the country in the next four years.
In an exclusive interview with ANC's Karen Davila, Schultz said he visited Manila for a second time to thank the company's partners who have made the coffee chain such a success in the Philippines.
"People ask me, 'why are you going to the Philippines? It's such a small market.' I'm coming here because I want to say thank you to our people who are doing such an amazing job. We never thought we'd have 200 stores in this market. And here we are. Now we just announced we'll open a hundred more in the next four years," he said.
Starbucks, through local partner Rustan Coffee Corp., opened its first store in the Philippines at 6750 Ayala Avenue in December 1997. At that time, it was only the third market outside of the United States where Starbucks opened.
During his one-day visit on Thursday, Schultz visited a handful of Starbucks stores, including the branch at The Grove by Rockwell which won a key design award.
Schultz, who met Starbucks' partners during his visit, was effusive in his praise for the Filipinos working for his company, saying they were "the best."
"We have Starbucks now in 62 countries [but] the culture, the values, the passion of the Filipinos who are wearing the green apron at Starbucks are absolutely the best we've ever seen," he said.
The Starbucks chief noted there is a "genuine" and "heartfelt" feeling he sees in Filipinos, which is a perfect fit with the company.
"It's not contrived. You can't teach it. It's an embodiment of a spirit that is unbelievable, and putting that in a Starbucks store, when the brand, the relationship we have with the customers, is the formula for success," he said.
With more than 18,000 stores in 62 countries, there's no doubt Starbucks is an iconic global brand.
Asked about plans for further global expansion, Schultz said, "We're committed to growing, innovating and doing things that perhaps has not been done before. And I love that."
For more of Karen Davila's exclusive interview with Starbucks CEO and chairman Howard Schultz, watch Headstart on ANC at 8 a.m. Tuesday (April 9).