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January 28, 2009

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THANKSALATTE!

Holy s**t! It's the damn Titanic!!

frozen tundra

The article states that Q1 profits were down 6% over last year caused by same store negative growth at 9%. Still a drop but not quite 69%. Just though I would correct the article heading so people don't go jump off a bridge or anything.

Jim Romenesko

To Frozen Tundra -- To set you straight.....the Associated Press story headline

STARBUCKS PROFIT DROPS 69%

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Starbucks-1Q-profit-falls-69-apf-14186781.html


Karl Kenya

That's also an additional 300 stores closing (200 in the US), as well as 700 positions eliminated (450 at the SSC).

We're still profitable and still positioned well to weather this economy. But many of our problems are not rooted in the bad economy, but bad decisions from the disconnected leadership. I can only hope that something changes there as well. Otherwise, even in a good economy we're gonna lose out to our competition.

Me

Before everyone starts bashing away. Did you guys notice how awesome the whole situation really is? At first it doesn't really sound great, but compare it to other big companies out there.

"Starbucks reported net income of $64.3 million"
This is pretty cool. We still earn some money.

Yes, McD just reported record earnings, but they are different. People tend to run more to McD and WalMart in these kind of days. Starbucks does not belong to these kind of low cost companies and still earns money. I'm pleasantly surprised!

On another note: Whoever said Baristas aren't on the chopping block should check his/her sources...

Melody- only for 350 SSC people

Carefully reading that letter from Mr. Schultz tells us that about 350 SSC partners lost their jobs today. I am sorry. I feel for you, and hope you find new jobs quickly, and something that you enjoy and pays well too!

This message is for my friends at the SSC who have lost their jobs: I hope the wind is at your back, and I trust that better times will be in the future.

Your friend,
Melody

(PS: I apologize for all the times I've caused misery at the SSC, been an ego-maniac, caustic, and sassy in posts and emails)

Me

Did anyone else notice how shareholders LOVE layoff announcements?
I wonder if they don't have jobs, or at least none to worry about. How is it possible shares always go up when people loose their job? This makes me sad.

Yes, I know how the market works (well, at least kind of), but it still makes me sad people gain profits from others fate.

reflecting

Does anyone have the details of how SIP and paid time off are affected?

Melody

I thought the letter from Howard Schultz sounded very sincere and thoughtful.

Coffee Soldier

SIP is now a 5% discount rather then 15% and no personal days for non-salaried or non retail partners so those 2 personal days year for baristas and SS are gone.

J. Lebowski

@Melody, Howard just bought a brand new jet to fly him to Hawaii, and you're upset at the shareholders? Seriously?!? Anyone who has held SBUX for any length of time has suffered more than the people who are losing their jobs. It's all pretty much academic at this point though as Starbucks is on its way to a full unwinding. Between McD's and Dunkin Donuts and bikini-clad baristas in espresso huts Starbucks has nothing left to bring to the coffee table.

GRTL

Ummm...aren't baristas retail employees..

We still get our 2 personal days right?..RIGHT?

Coffee Soldier

Sorry I typed that wrong...it appears to be only salaried and non-retail partners will keep the personal days so SM and partners outside the stores will have them. You have until Feb 16th to use them or loose them.

Naptown Barista

Sucks that 300 more stores will be biting the dust, and that so many partners will lose their jobs. Is there a logical process to determine which partners stay and which ones don't? Or is it "sorry, you happen to work at an underperforming store, so you're finished". A lot of really good talent will be leaving through no fault of their own, while some slackers at more profitable locations will remain. A 3 month partner at a profitable location has a better chance of keeping their job than a more tenured barista at a closing location. Seems like more experienced folks would be much more efficient.

StarbucksCurious

Were any field partners at regional offices, such as DMs, RDs, PR, Trainers, etc laid off today? What araes in the SSC were reduced?

the real deal

This affects Baristas, SS, and Cafe Attendants only:

No more personal days - although you still get to use the one granted on January 1.

For partners of less than 3 years, you no longer accrue vacation for the first 12 months of employment, and vacation is accrued after than at 1 week per year. If you have already accrued vacation, you keep it, and are eligible to use it after 6 months of employment.

For partners with the company longer than 3 years, vacation accrual remains the same.

ASM, SM and above vacation remains unchanged.

Nerfebarista

keep knocking off the bennies and they wont need to worry about giving folks the axe when they shut down stores.. people will leave on their own.

Algoregreen

SBUX should just get out of the coffee biz and do what they do best: care about the planet and care about the community. The plight of a progressive company.

maybe the layoffs should start at the top of the ladder? howie on down.

Patrick

Holy crap! First, they pay us barely above minumum wage, and now they're taking away our benefits?! Whatever happened to "total pay"? Insurance premimums have gone up every year, 401(k) matches are possibly gone, SIP's being messed with, and NOW paid time off is being taken away? Vacation time was one of the reasons I started working for Starbucks! 1 week per year?! Agh! Should I be mad about this, or happy I have a job? I'm confused and very upset. I've given my all for this job, and I do NOT feel appreciated AT ALL! I hope none of you are one of the laid off, I really do, but I really am finding it difficult to figure out why I'm still working for Starbucks.

ex coffee wench

the sky is falling the sky is falling again!!! run while you can.

howard letter states layoffs will happen by mid February. are you saying they already happened at the SSC?

1 week per year is pretty typical in retail. as is one raise per cal. year. bet that comes next.

what else is on the q and a sheet?

Melody

It looks like there will be a bundling menu in March 2009- though Howard Schultz previously said he would never do that.

Beginning in March we will offer several breakfast pairings at attractive price points. (not verbatim)

Christin

Patrick- be glad you have a job... It's not just starbucks, it's the entire country

Melody

Wait. Did anyone else just hear Troy Alstead say that Howard Schultz is now going to earn $10k a year and not 1.9 mill?

Patrick

I AM thankful and happy I have a job in this age. And, I also realize it's the entire country, but I just don't know where to vent my frustrations, you know? It's very hard to yell at the sub-prime mortgage crisis, scream at frozen credit markets, or badger low consumer confidence. You have to understand this is the hardest and longest recession in MY memory, and I really am beginning to doubt there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyday brings more bad news of layoffs, while the government debates bailout and economic stimuli. When will it stop? When will we escape this economic quagmire?! I hope, for everyone's sake, soon.

Coffee Soldier

Yes, Howard volunteered for 1$ salary but the board gave him $10,000

F@#$ Starbucks

I hate my job. I hate this company. Does anyone think that we are moving in a good direction. We should waterboard Howard with Pikes Place.

ol-skool-sbc

I posted this yesterday on another thread, and feel that this is very relevent to this thread:

I have been speculating this for quite some time, but I predict that Seattle's Best Coffee will be wiped out of the face of Starbucks' offering by 2010.

I am a former barista who worked basically, on the eve year before the acquisition of the Seattle Coffee Company (Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia) by Starbucks, and went through the transition. Back then, it was owned by AFC (the company that owns Popeye's and Church's Chicken). Much had changed from what I remembered about SBC. I was a big mocha fan of theirs in the 90s because they were using Dilettante chocolate sauce. I had asked a manager what happened, and she said they cut them because of a bad batch of sauce that they got. Their mochas were never the same after that. Overall, SBC back then seemed like it focused on the quality of the drinks and I had thought had the edge over SBUX.

A few years later, I had the urge to go have a latte from Torrefazione Italia, the other sister comapany of SBC. TI was known as the "snob" coffee, and rightfully so. They had some great tasting coffee. To my dissapointment, it was a totally different cafe. It seemed like very TI"ish" and decided to try it. I started chatting with one of the workers, and it turned out it was one of the founders of TI. I believed him with his really thick Italian accent. I had asked him what had happened. He had told me that it was basically a nightmare since the SBUX acquisition. TI cafes' espresso machines were in need of maintenance, and were ignored by the SBUX support. After less than a year, SBUX decided to shut down the TI cafes. TI is still around but only for online, food service, and grocery purchase. WTF?!?! Bellagio in Las Vegas had a contract with TI to serve their coffee at one time. I recently went to there, and they no longer carry TI.

For the last years, I have seen the slow bleed process for SBC. Stores have been closing in the Seattle area, and wonder how they can keep this up. The branding of the roasts are so generic now. The bags use to have really cool art work, and now it's just blah, unlike many of SBUX coffee bags. SBC use to sell 100% Kona and Jamaican Blue Moutain coffee. Not anymore. It is just not the same anymore. At this point, I just do not see it economically feasible from a brand management perspective to keep the SBC cafes open, in light of the already announced SBUX layoffs.

My fellow SBC baristas/mgrs, you have been warned. Please look out for the signs and do not let SBUX take you out by surprise. Take care and God Bless!

Ol' Skool SBC :-)

Posted by: ol-skool-sbc | January 26, 2009 at 03:10 PM

sample cup

listening to the investor conference call is so damned frustrating and depressing

sample cup

ol-skool-sbc: it looks like Starbucks as a company is looking to market the SBC brand as more accessible and to invite franchisees to use closed STarbucks locations.

formersbuxcustomer

Want to do something about falling same store sales? How about:

1)Roll back the last few price increases for drip coffee. I can get my travel mug filled at a nearby Its A Grind coffee shop for $1.55. SBUX charges me $1.80 and the coffee isn't any better. SBUX drip coffee is too expensive.


2)Offer free, unencumbered, unauthenticated wireless with no SBUX card required. Again, the Its A Grind coffee shop that I pay _less_ per cup of coffee has free, wide open wireless Internet.


Why would I go back to SBUX when they aren't anywhere near competitive compared to the shop down the street?

K-Dog

As indicated in the conference call, SBC will be leveraged more as a franchise entity moving forward.

hotel barista

I started reading this site b/c I work at a licensed store, not a "real" Sbux, so I figured I could get the inside info that I was missing out on... all I can say is, I'm so glad that I don't actually work for the Starbucks corp. I haven't had to deal with all this Sbux financial BS with lousy managers, cutting hours, losing benefits, etc etc etc.

Actually... the past few months we've been stealing customers away from the two giant Starbucks stores nearby. Customers come see us and can avoid the the long lines and grumpy baristas that give them so-so drinks.

ndemystic

Wow! Did I get laid off right before this severance package deal was maid. To bad for me and my family I was helping to support. Thank you, Howie

My post to the "Compy Chair" thread is rellevant to this thread.


As I have posted before I was a Barista and was laid off just after the first of this year. I was hired in August had worked my 240 hours and earned and started paying for bennifts in December. I would have been up for my first pay increase February.
My training was by watching a computer program and then by a Shift Supervisor showing you how to work the espresso bar and by first hand experience good or bad. One of the computer moduals was all about how to clean the store. The next modual was about POS, point of sale, at the register. The register has many layers of screens depending on your drink or food pick. Speed was always a factor by not only the Customer but the management. I had very little hands on time at the Espresso bar or the window. I was assigned maybe four different times at the window, otherwise, I worked the window when no one else would respond to a drive up which starbucks refers to making a slide. In our store there have been Barista's that have worked for SBUX for 3 or more years, many of which are students. They have mastered the espresso bar over time. Making those fabulous drinks wet or dry extra foamy and so forth and doing so in seconds or as fast as the shots can come out of the machine. They are the most efficent people to have at that post. For most newbys it was more efficent to have them posted at the front register so they can watch and learn and so they can do the lobby sweeps. I was told at my lay off due to shift cuts (fewer shifts in a day)that the store could only have the most efficent team on. This was just two weeks ago. This is why you see the bathrooms dirty. Less Barista's in a demanding store and the register Barista is now making the espresso, too, and not getting in a lobby sweep. It is impossible to do all of the daily chores and keep a clean store while cutting back and still delivering a fast good cup of coffe or espresso. I was told I was one of the best Barista's with the customers and never late nor whined but I was expendable due to SBUX having only the most efficent shifts on. I don't see how not having that fourth Barista to do what I was doing is making Starbucks shifts more efficient. This may be faster and ultimatley sell more drinks but they don't get the whole job done or the store clean. This will be a problem soon because the Barista's that do get the job done will collapse or leave SBUX altogether because they are way over worked. The current policy already is unhealthy for the workers in that you are constantly on your feet with only a ten minute break after working 4 hours. And if you see that you would not finish before close you often work through you break. If your legs cramp and you have caught up you still must find something to do. You must keep busy and on your feet moving at all times. Store policy! Barista's are not allowed to sit down unless it is on your break or on your lunch regardless on how much you have already done. (The only exception to the no sitting rule is the shift when they are counting the money in the back.) You get a lunch break if your shift is more than 6.25 or 7.25 hours. I am a Real Estate agent by trade and have several jobs and I am astonished by the amount of work that was expected from a Barista. And the skill that a Barista possess' that has been there for some time is amazing. Everyone should be a Barista for a "day" and find out how hard they work it could give you insight what SBUX is all about. I hope that all my friends at my store stay well and I am truly worried about the current work conditions.

So, how many Partners did you dismiss in the last month so you did not have to give them a severance package? I am not even collecting unemployment. I had never been put on notice. This is wrong. Can I still get unemployment? I should have gotten a Lawyer.

PhillySM

The following posting is from the starbucks.com/partner website.
It's rather lengthy and I believe it's the Q&A referenced.

http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/partners/archive/2009/01/28/a-message-from-howard-difficult-decisions-in-a-time-of-uncertainty.aspx

PLANNED WORKFORCE REDUCTION
1. What is Starbucks announcing today?
Today we are announcing a global workforce reduction that will result in approximately 700 non-store partners being separated from the company in the U.S. and internationally, with about half at the Starbucks Support Center (SSC) in Seattle.

2. What about store partners?
We also announced that we are planning to close approximately 300 additional underperforming company-operated stores, approximately 200 in the U.S. and the remainder in international markets. We anticipate that the closures, combined with reduced store openings for fiscal 2009 and other labor efficiency initiatives, could result in an additional reduction of as many as 6,000 store positions over the course of the fiscal year. As before, we hope to be able to place affected store partners elsewhere in the store organization.

3. What about U.S. field leadership?
While there will be store-level impacts, organizational changes at the field leadership level in the U.S. (among district managers, regional directors and regional vice presidents) are expected to be minimal at this time, as changes were made in July 2008.

4. When will I know about my job?
Partners affected by the global workforce reduction will be personally notified of any change to their job status during the first half of February 2009. For partners in a few international markets, this may be somewhat later in order to comply with local employment laws.
Store partners working in stores that are scheduled to close will be notified once a full assessment has been completed, which is expected to occur by fiscal year end.

Those partners who become displaced as a result of this workforce reduction will be offered severance packages based on job level and/or years of service. All displaced store partners – full-time and part-time – are eligible for a severance payment based on job title and current pay rate, and in accordance with local laws and regulations.

5. Why are layoffs being announced today, if they won’t occur for several weeks or months?
While this waiting period creates uncertainty for all partners, out of respect we felt it was important to be as transparent as we could with partners and announce our intentions as soon as we were able.

6. Why is another round of layoffs necessary?
Starbucks is emerging from one of the most challenging holiday seasons in recent memory, in the midst of a broadening global recession with unprecedented weakness in the economy and continued declines in consumer spending.
Our priority during this time is to prepare for the continued uncertainty in the economy and ensure we have a strong foundation to support our long-term goals.

While we have already had several rounds of layoffs this past year, it is our hope that these necessary actions – along with other cost containment efforts – will reduce the need for additional workforce reductions.

7. Which non-store functional areas will be affected?
The workforce reduction will affect all key support functions, including (but not limited to): Global Development, Global Finance, Global Supply Chain, Global Technology, Law & Corporate Affairs, Marketing/Category, Partner Resources and Public Affairs.
Non-store positions in U.S. Retail Operations and Starbucks Coffee International will also be affected, as will Global Consumer Products, Foodservice and Seattle’s Best Coffee.

8. Will all job levels be affected?
Yes. Non-store position eliminations and/or restructures encompass all job levels.

9. Who is making the organizational decisions?
The senior leader in each functional area is accountable for making organizational decisions appropriate for his/her team, as it relates to supporting the current business environment and meeting efficiency targets. In most cases, these decisions are being made at the vice president and above level, including region presidents and market leadership internationally.

10. How are decisions regarding partners being made? What’s the process?
Based upon the company’s current and future needs, non-store positions have been eliminated or restructured. In some cases, certain roles or functions are being eliminated, and those partners will be separated. In other cases, there will be a reduction in the number of similar positions. Selection decisions are being made based on key factors such as job performance, experience, skills, and in some cases, geography.

11. How will the international decisions be made?
While a consistent approach is being used across Starbucks global non-store organization, leaders in the international regions and markets are making decisions based on local needs to support their business and in compliance with local laws. As a result, there will be some positions eliminated at the region and market levels.

12. How can partners stay focused during this time of uncertainty? What can I do?
Change can be unsettling and disruptive. In a time of uncertainty, partners should try and focus on those things that are within their individual control, and refrain from speculating about the future as much as possible. This is a challenging and important time for Starbucks. Doing your job as well as you can, with the passion and dedication that Starbucks partners are known for, is always the right thing to do.

13. Where can partners go for support?
Partners have many resources available during this time of change. In addition to your leadership team and Partner Resources staff, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for all partners. In the U.S. and Canada, EAP counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (800) 682-0364. International partners may refer to the EAP numbers in their respective regions or markets for assistance.

14. What will we do to assist displaced partners?
Eliminating positions and separating partners are extremely difficult decisions that do not reflect on the individual contributions of our partners. They are leaving Starbucks in good standing. We fully recognize the personal and professional impacts these actions have on individual partners – those departing and those who remain with the organization – and are committed to treating them with respect.

*
o
Separated partners will be able to manage their own exit from the building.
o
Partners will be offered severance packages based on job level and/or years of service.
o
Partners can access services from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
o
To aid in their transition, “Partner Care Day” will be held at an offsite location for displaced Seattle-based partners and their families to connect with representatives from benefits, stock, savings, payroll, unemployment and outplacement services.

15. Did the company do anything to prevent this from happening?
Yes. This past year, we have continued to monitor business trends, chose not to fill many budgeted open positions, and were able to mitigate the total number of separations through attrition. Where business needs allowed, every effort was made to try and place partners in affected roles into available positions to avoid displacing them. From a cost containment perspective, the company has been closely scrutinizing all parts of the business and taking appropriate action, including postponing projects and business initiatives and reducing non-essential business travel and other expenses.

16. Can displaced non-store partners find jobs at the store?
Wherever possible, impacted non-store partners with retail experience are being considered for placement in open store positions at the store manager and district manager level. Displaced non-store partners are welcome to apply for open store positions.

17. What is the status of open positions at the SSC and other support locations?
Following the workforce reduction (which also includes the elimination of approximately 300 open non-store positions globally), we anticipate there will be very few open non-store positions available in the near term. Those that do remain will be for highly specialized roles.

18. Are we looking at other ways to reduce expenses, other than labor?
Yes. We announced $500 million in expected cost containment measures for FY09. While a component of this will come from labor, we are also doing things such as rationalizing our store portfolio and pursuing efficiency enhancements in-store and in our supply chain.
In keeping with our cost savings commitment, the senior leadership team has been looking – and will continue to look – at all parts of the business to manage our cost structure and align the organization in the most efficient way possible for the long term. This includes postponing projects and business initiatives and reducing non-essential business travel and other expenses.
In addition to headcount and open positions, the use of contingent workers and outside consultants is also being reduced.

19. If the company is in a state of cost containment, why are we spending money on things like new products and promotional campaigns?
While we need to reduce our expenses, at the same time we need to focus on growing our business – in the most cost-effective way possible – in order to increase customer traffic and sales into our stores. New products, promotional campaigns and advertising are necessary to help increase traffic and revenue.

20. There’s so much work to do. How can we do it with fewer resources?
As part of this process, senior leadership is taking a hard look at what’s working and what’s not working in the organization. The goal is to reprioritize and refocus the work to ensure we’re operating efficiently and effectively to align to our core business priorities. It’s not a matter of doing the same work with fewer resources; there will be some work that is eliminated or reduced in scope or scale.

21. There is a lot of change going on at Starbucks. If I am asked by someone outside of Starbucks -- including family, friends or customers – about what is happening, what should I say?
Let them know that Starbucks continues to be focused on being one of the most respected and recognized brands in the world. While times of change require us to make difficult decisions, we are a company with a conscience. By working together and staying true to the heritage and traditions of Starbucks, we will get through these tough times and emerge a stronger company than ever before.

22. What if I am contacted by the media about this announcement?
As always, only an approved spokesperson may speak with the media. Partners who get questions from external sources – including vendors or reporters – should route these inquiries to the Media Relations hotline in Seattle at (206) 318-7100.

ADDITIONAL STORE CLOSURES
23. How many additional Starbucks stores will be closed?
We are planning to close approximately 300 additional underperforming company-operated stores, approximately 200 in the U.S. and the remainder in international markets.

24. Why is it necessary to close more stores?
The closures are necessary to keep a healthy, profitable store portfolio. The potentially impacted stores were identified following a continued rigorous evaluation by leaders from Operations, Global Development and Finance, and, in the international markets, the leaders of the regions and markets. Criteria included locations that were not profitable at the store level and not believed to provide acceptable returns in the foreseeable future. In addition to site- and market-specific criteria, consideration was given to the impact of the current and anticipated economic trends.

25. Where are these stores located?
The stores are spread across all major U.S. markets and include some of our international markets as well. A list of the closures will be available when it has been finalized, and once impacted partners have been notified.

26. When will the stores close?
The majority of these closures are expected to occur over the remainder of fiscal 2009, with closures in the U.S. taking place more quickly. Exact timing is dependent on many factors, including negotiating third-party agreements, adherence to notification requirements, and local laws, and is thus subject to change.

27. When will stores be informed?
Stores will be notified once a full assessment has been completed, which is expected to occur by fiscal year end.

28. How will this impact partners working in a store that will close?
Consistent with what we have done before, those U.S. partners who are not offered a comparable position within a reasonable distance of their current location will be offered a severance payment to aid in their transition. All affected store partners – full-time and part-time – are eligible for severance based on job title and current pay rate.

Affected store partners in international markets will be placed in available positions at nearby Starbucks stores wherever possible. Those who are not will receive severance in accordance with local laws and regulations.

PARTNER BENEFIT CHANGES
29. What changes are being made to the U.S. retail hourly paid time off policy?
Effective February 16, 2009, the vacation policy for all U.S. retail hourly non-exempt partners (shift supervisors, baristas and café attendants) with less than three years of service will change. Specifically:

*
o
Partners will not be eligible to accrue paid vacation during their first year of service.
o
Partners will accrue up to one week during their second and third year of service.

Vacation hours that partners have already accrued are not impacted by this change and are eligible for use after six months of employment (or earlier if required by law). Partners with more than three years of service will continue to accrue up to two weeks of paid vacation (for four and five years of service) and up to three weeks of vacation (for more than five years of service).

Additionally, effective July 1, 2009, U.S. retail hourly non-exempt partners will no longer be eligible for personal day grants. This change does not impact the personal day granted to eligible partners on Jan. 1, 2009.

The vacation and personal day policy for retail salaried partners (store managers, assistant store managers and retail management trainees) and non-retail partners is not changing.

30. Where can I go for more information about the U.S. retail hourly paid time off policy change?
Detailed information is being provided directly to the stores on this policy change.

For general questions about the U.S. retail hourly paid time off policy, call the Partner Contact Center at (866) 504-7368 for more information. Since Monday is the busiest day for the PCC, it is best to call between Tuesday and Friday (5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT) for the shortest wait time.

31. What changes are being made to the Stock Investment Plan (S.I.P.)?
Effective April 1, 2009, S.I.P. will change from a 15% partner discount on the purchase of shares of Starbucks stock (based on closing price of first or last day of the quarter) to a 5% discount with no “look-back feature” (based only on the closing price on the last day of the quarter). This change affects all eligible partners in the U.S. and Canada.
Partners may make changes to their current S.I.P. contribution percent during the next quarterly enrollment period, which runs from March 1-15, 2009.

Program eligibility requirements for S.I.P. are not changing; nor is the amount that partners may contribute toward the purchase of shares of Starbucks stock (between 1% and 10% of gross base pay each pay period).

32. Where can I go for more information about S.I.P.?
For general questions about S.I.P., contact:

*
o
The Partner Contact Center at (866) 504-7368. Since Monday is the busiest day for the PCC, it is best to call between Tuesday and Friday (5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT) for the shortest wait time.
o
Fidelity Stock Plan Services at 1-866-697-1048 (U.S. Partners) or 1-800-544-0275 (Canadian partners).
o
Go online at www.LifeAt.sbux.com and click on “Pay, Stock and Savings.”

33. Why is it necessary to make changes to partner benefits?
Offering comprehensive benefits for our partners – including equity in the form of stock options and health care coverage – is at the very core of our company. And these will continue. However, Starbucks is operating in a highly challenging economic environment. As we begin another difficult year, our goal is to balance the significant challenges in the economy with our desire to have a comprehensive, sustainable Total Pay program. In order to do that, we need to use our benefit dollars in a way that provides the most value to the greatest number of partners. While we may do things a bit differently than in the past, one thing is certain: we will stay true to who we are as a company.

34. What changes are being made to the commuter benefits program?
We are planning to expand our commuter benefits program nationally. This program helps field partners save money on eligible work-related commuting expenses by offering them the option of purchasing their public transportation passes or parking through pre-tax payroll deductions.

Implementation, which began with a pilot in the New York metro area, will be market-by-market across the U.S., with a target completion by the end of 2009. Details will be provided to partners about two to three weeks prior to the rollout in their area.

sample cup

did anyone hear that part on the conference call dealing with Subway???

K-Dog

Wow, that was a fantastic final question on the conference call... The answer did not inspire confidence.

Melody

@sample_cup - The tone of that conference call was a downer. The final question essentially asked about balancing 'store level cost savings' (reduced labor) with 'elevating the Starbucks experience' and in reply, Cliff sort of just danced around it and said that a reduced promotional calendar, and 'slowing the introduction of innovation' will help. Again, he referred to the "lean" store ...

pat nerr

My condolences to the folks who have to move on... it certainly is a bad time.

expartners wife

as the wife of a partner who was "laid off" in july, I must say there is a whole lot of lies above.

soontobeformersbuxcustomer

This is just as much of a disaster from the customer's point of view as anything else. For a long time, one of the draws of Starbucks was the knowledge that employees received benefits and seemed to be treated better than average. (Some might call me naive for believing that, which I understand.) Learning that Starbucks is chipping away at these benefits makes me feel less inclined to spend my money at the place. (I realize that this doesn't help the employees either, but would rather see my money go to an independent shop that does treat its workers well.)

And breakfast sandwich combinations? What a joke. I don't want to save money on my coffee by also buying a breakfast sandwich that I don't want and that the baristas don't enjoy selling. I just want to save money on my coffee! And let's face it--it's beginning to sound a lot like McDonalds.

With the quality of the drinks declining too (that's a comment on the new soy milk, the new rules for pulling shots, and the lack of proper training, not a shot at the baristas), what's the point?

I agree with everything formersbuxcustomer said as well. As long as I can still afford to drink coffee, I'll be taking my business to the cafes in my town that are cheaper, environmentally responsible (anyone ever heard of compostable cups?), treat their employees well, offer free wireless with no catch, and are invested in the local community. If Starbucks ever gets its act back together and starts prioritizing people and coffee again, maybe I'll come back. Maybe.

In the meantime, I wish all of the employees the best in these tough times.

Melody

K-dog, I was posting the same thing - yep, the final question was the very best one. I think we would have heard something more confident sounding if it had been answered by Howard and not Cliff.

lattegal

Just got done listening to the Starbucks quarterly financial conference call. The last question was interesting...The question was about the balance between all of the new initiatives/lack of labor coming from corporate and how the partners in the store are dealing with it and how they seem to be at odds with each other.

The questions was answered by Cliff Burrows saying that they were aware of this possibility and that they had introduced a new "Bonus Scheme" for the partners in the store last month which has helped excite partners and it's helped to increase sales. Has anyone heard of this? I'm usually up on things but this must has slipped by...I haven't heard of any "bonus" scheme.

I know they've had selling coffee contests and "THE STORE" gets money as a reward for a store event but the store also has to make a minimum of $25 to even get the money (reward) sent to them...right? Not individuals. Is this the "BONUS" plan that he could be talking about?

Anyone know what this is all about?

It's a bad time for many partners, Pat Nerr: the loyal, gung-ho ones are being worked to the point where it's hard to maintain enthusiasm; the coffee lovers are seeing more and more emphasis on other aspects intended to "grow" our business; the scc partners are quaking in their boots because who knows who's next; terminated partners have to deal with the fact that they have invested time with this company and poof they no longer have a job...

I'm one sad rabid-for-information barista today.

I must say honestly that if they cut the DM pool in half, and gave them all 20-30 locations, we would save a ton of money, and the store experience would not change one bit...unless the SM is totally reliant on the DM (I know of no such SM). I have had some truley remarkable DM's and some very poor one's, so it's not a bash against the DM job in general, but ever since we stopped having full 8 hour development days and true one-on-ones with the DM's, their job has been to pop in once and a while and send out a ton of forwarded emails. My DM is on the phone or computer 95% of the time solving really simple issues that competent SM's should deal with easily, taking conf. calls, etc...I have not sat at a table with my DM and had a one-on-one conversation about my store, p+l, my partners, customers, or anything else for well over a year (much closer to 2 years).

I have many friends that I have worked with for many years that are DM's, so I wish them no harm in this crisis, but their job is really to send emails nowadays and that can be done to 12 or 30 stores at once, no difference.

sample cup

that was me above

Freed peaberry

I JUST finished my last week at the Bucks and I'm worried about the remaining baristas in my store, which was a known underperformer with an inferior manager. Has the list been made available yet?

I must have someone looking out for me to be able to get out so close to this announcement.

I'm very sad to hear more and more people are faced with such a life altering event. I wonder how much really stems from the economy vs. people with too much money being non-chalant about spending...

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