Starbucks partners with Sequoia Capital China to invest in tech companies

CHINA – Starbucks has announced a strategic partnership with leading investment firm, Sequoia Capital China to tap into China’s growing technology landscape and elevate the country’s coffee and retail industry.

Through the partnership, Starbucks will make strategic co-investments with Sequoia Capital China, and commercial partnerships with next-generation food and retail technology companies to propel Starbucks digital innovation in China.

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The US coffee retail chain said that the collaboration with Sequoia Capital China enables early access to ideas in the retail marketplace, creating opportunities for strategic investment to evolve Starbucks business in China.

“Starbucks has an insatiable appetite for innovative ideas that augment the Starbucks Experience and keep it at the forefront of China’s retail landscape,” said Belinda Wong, chairman and chief executive officer, Starbucks China.

“China’s vibrant environment is a rich ground for entrepreneurship that has seen the emergence of many local innovators that we hugely admire.

“The partnership enables Starbucks to tap into the most dynamic Chinese technology entrepreneurs in order to delight our customers with meaningful innovations created in China, for China.”

Beyond the direct benefits from this collaboration, Starbucks also hopes to leverage its retail expertise, scale and infrastructure to help realize the growth aspirations of like-minded purpose-driven companies that have a passion for leading positive change for customers and communities.

“We are thrilled to partner with Starbucks, one of the leading retailers in China with unmatched market presence, strong culture of innovation, and deep insights into the Chinese consumer landscape,” said Neil Shen, Steward of Sequoia Capital, and the Founding and Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital China.

“The partnership presents an exciting platform for our portfolio companies to test, commercialize and scale new innovations for China.

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“Together with Starbucks, we look forward to bringing the digital transformation of consumer retail industry in China to the next level.”

Through the partnership with Sequoia Capital, Starbucks said that it will explore opportunities to embed digital technologies across all dimensions of its retail business to harness the power of data-driven analytics, modelling and decision making.

The company says these may entail adopting creative solutions to enhance front- and back-of-house operations, such as the use of machine learning and predictive intelligence tools in managing the coffee chain’s growing retail operations in China.

The coffee chain retail giant said that the investments will also seek to optimize its supply chain through precise, real-time inventory management.

“Starbucks strategic partnership with Sequoia Capital China adds another powerful engine to drive our relentless pursuit of digital innovation around the world,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks.

“Together with Valor Siren Ventures launched in the U.S. last year, we are excited to tap the tremendous energy of technology entrepreneurs from two of the world’s largest and most dynamic markets, to pioneer innovative solutions that could reimagine the global retail landscape.”

The partnership marks Starbucks latest move in its long-term commitment to growing the coffee and retail industry in China, one of its two lead growth markets alongside the US.

Most recently, the company teamed up with with plant-based innovators, Beyond Meat and Oatly, to continue its strategic focus on expanding plant-based ingredients and products in China.

Starbucks is also investing approximately US$130 million in China to open a state-of-the-art roasting facility in 2022, as part of its new Coffee Innovation Park (CIP).

As Starbucks largest manufacturing investment outside of the US and its first in Asia, the company noted that the CIP will incorporate a roasting plant, warehouse and distribution center.

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