Starbucks to start alcohol sales

Coffee alone is not enough for Starbucks anymore. The world's largest coffee chain said Wednesday that it would soon start selling beer and wine in thousands of stores worldwide as it seeks to pump up its sales in coffee-saturated markets.

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The company also announced at its annual shareholder meeting that it was partnering with talk show mogul Oprah Winfrey for a new line of chai teas at its stores in the United States.

Starbucks started testing beer and wine sales after 4pm in 2010 and the test programme has since expanded to 40 stores in major US urban centres.

But in an interview with Bloomberg News Starbucks chief operating officer Troy Alstead said the program would be rolled out to thousands of Starbucks stores in the coming years.

“We’ve tested it long enough in enough markets - this is a programme that works,” he said. “As we bring the evening program to stores, there’s a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day.”

Alstead said the evening programme, which includes special menu items as well as beer and wine, would be focused on entertainment districts where people were already visiting restaurants, cinemas or other venues.

Starbucks has more than 20,100 locations worldwide, including about 11,500 in the US.

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