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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

SEATTLE-Starbucks is increasing its international expansion plans from a target of 15,000 units to 20,000 due to expected growth in various new markets. By the end of the 2007 calendar year, the coffee giant plans to open its first stores in Brazil, Russia, India and Egypt, giving it a presence in 40 countries.

The news comes after executives revealed last month that they were increasing this year’s opening target from 1,800 coffeehouses to 2,000. Next year 2,400 new units are projected. Starbucks currently operates 12,000 stores worldwide.

The first units in Cairo, Egypt; and Sao Paulo, Brazil; could open as early as the end of this year. The locally-based company’s joint-venture partner in Egypt M.H. Alshaya, and it is partnering with a firm called Starbucks Brasil Comercio de Cafes in Brazil.

Starbucks is also teaming with M.H. Alshaya in Russia, where management is forecasting its first store, in Moscow, by next year’s fourth quarter. The company is finalizing joint-venture plans in India, where the first store is expected to open by the end of next year in either Dehli or Mumbai.

Meanwhile, in the US this year Starbucks now plans to open approximately 750 company-operated locations and 650 licensed locations. During its most recently reported quarter, which ended July 2, the company’s year-over-year same-store sales rose 4%.

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