The first 50 stores to be shuttered have been posted on the company's Web site. Eight are in California, none in L.A. Locations are San Diego, Rancho Mirage, Hemet, Riverside, Montclair, Victorville, Hollister, Laguna Beach (here's the full list). All told, 600 company-operated stores in the U.S. will close between now and the first half of next year. As many as 12,000 layoffs are expected.
Now here comes a nasty juxtaposition. Along with the lost jobs and store closures is the introduction of something called the Sorbetto. It's a Pinkberry-inspired drinkable yogurt that comes in three flavors - Tangy, Citrus Ice and Tangy Citrus Ice - and is being pushed as a mid-afternoon snack (keep in mind that foot-traffic slows by the afternoon). The Sorbetto makes its debut today at 313 stores in Orange and Los Angeles counties. The company is also rolling out a protein-and-banana smoothie called the Vivanno. The OC Register's Nancy Luna gets to taste the Sorbetto, and MarketWatch looks at the bigger picture.
"It's a great way to refresh their brand," said Patricia Martin, marketing strategist and head of LitLamp Communications Group. "It puts the focus back on the drink." Since Howard Schultz returned as CEO in January, Starbucks has been taking steps to rejuvenate its operations to counter the slowdown in the U.S. economy.
Starbucks said its research showed 60% of customers polled would come to buy more nutritious beverages. The smoothie-like drink, a mix of protein and fruit, will pack 15 or more grams of protein, at least 5 grams of fiber, contain no artificial sweeteners and consist of less than 270 calories, according to the company. The cold-iced beverage, steeped in Italian heritage, will be a low-calorie drink offered in fruit, dairy or yogurt-based flavors.