CHICAGO-Starbucks Inc. outlined its plans for a 30,000-store chain in the US and internationally during a presentation at the William Blair & Co. 26th Annual Growth Stock Conference. Michael Casey, EVP and CFO of the Seattle-based company, told the gathering that Starbucks stores will continue to be the main driver of growth, but its growing food business and products sold in other retail stores will be just some of the other brand extensions that will add momentum to what is already a retail juggernaut.

With Starbucks already operating 11,500 stores in the US and abroad, the company is opening five new stores per day seven days a week, Casey pointed out. He said the company is on track to open 1,800 new stores this fiscal year.

“We now have the organizational capability and the market opportunity to add stores in the future at a faster pace,” Casey said. He described Starbucks’ future as “one of global expansion, both in our retail store business and in expanding our brands to new products and through new distribution channels.”

Despite the aggressive pace of new-store openings, Casey noted, Starbucks has posted steady same-store growth throughout its history and expects to continue to do so this year. He said 2006 will be the 15th consecutive year of comp-store sales growth of 5% or higher for the chain.

“To the best of our knowledge, this kind of comp-store growth is unprecedented,” Casey said, pointing out that “Average unit sales have continued to grow despite the aggressive new store count,” and now surpass $1 million, he said.

To reach its goal of 30,000 stores, the company will continue to open new locations in “a combination of infill in existing markets and entering new markets,” including international markets, such as China, where the chain has only about 400 stores today. Other international markets on the company’s list include Brazil, Russia and India, with the first store in Brazil expected to open in early 2007.

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