AUBURN – The local Starbucks coffee shop got word that it has survived the first wave of store closures by the popular Seattle-based chain.

“It’s good news, we’re staying open,” said Laura Steckino, manager of the Mount Auburn Avenue store.

Announced in early 2005, Starbucks made front page news as one of the first trendy retailers to locate in the city’s revived shopping hub. It took over a vacated bank building and opened that September.

According to its Web site, Starbucks plans to announce monthly closures through the first half of fiscal year 2009. About 70 percent of the 600 stores targeted for closure have opened since the beginning of fiscal 2006.

The company announced plans to close under-performing stores across the country on July 1 as part of a new strategy to renew focus on customer service and operational excellence.

The first wave of closures includes 50 stores; none are in Maine.

According to a statement from the company, Starbucks executives are closing locations that are not profitable, nor expected to be in the foreseeable future. In addition to site and market-specific criteria, consideration will be given to the impact of current and anticipated economic trends, it said.

The company also scaled back its plan to open new stores, with only 200 planned in the U.S. for the next fiscal year. The company operates 15,000 stores in 43 countries, and intends to accelerate growth in overseas markets.

The U.S. closures are expected to cost between $328 million and $348 million. In 2007, Starbucks generated $9.4 billion in revenues and $673 million in net earnings.

– Carol Coultas


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