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SEATTLE-Starbucks Coffee Co. announced plans Tuesday to close 600 underperforming stores by mid-2009, going even further than former released estimates of just having to shutter 100 stores. The closures will cost the company from $328 million to $348 million.

The stores are scattered throughout the US major markets, a company spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com. One telling factor is that about 70% of the stores to be closed have only been open since fiscal 2006. The company also now expects to open less than 200 new US company owned-stores next year, down from the 1,077 stores it opened last year.

Howard Schultz, president, chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the company started its cost-cutting moves in January. He said that the decision is difficult because of the jobs that will be cut, though the company said it would place many employees at nearby stores. “We recognize that it is necessary to make decisions that will strengthen the US store portfolio and enable us to enter in fiscal 2009 focused on enhancing operating efficiency, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring long-term value for our partners, customers and shareholders,” Schultz said.

The company, which has 11,434 stores in the US, said the announcement doesn’t include plans to close any of its 4,792 stores internationally. Last month, the company said it will open 150 units in Europe over the next three years, in a licensing partnership with SSP

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