How Starbucks Is Trying To 'Reinvent' Itself

Starbucks is overdue for an update. While it's still the world's largest coffee chain, the company's shares were down 35% through the first half of 2022 and are currently off more than 20% year to date, which has taken a toll on its overall market value (per CNBC). It would be easy to place the blame on new leadership, but former chairman and CEO Howard Schultz (who's now serving as the brand's interim CEO) has until April before he hands over the throne to Laxman Narasimhan (per Wall Street Journal). Instead, Schultz and other Starbucks overseers have presented a plan for damage control on issues that have been building at the chain since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Those issues include the chain's response to its workers' nationwide union drive, which has included firings and being sued, the denial of benefits for pro-union workers, and other alleged union-busting tactics (per Vice). Starbucks may not be bending to store-wide representation under Workers United, but they may be willing to address some offshoot matters that could appease workers. At a September 13 "Investor Day" in Seattle, the company announced a "reinvention" strategy that aims to address backlash over this controversy, as well as a spate of other issues that need attention.

The plan aims to tackle store efficiency and employee satisfaction

In preparation for Tuesday's "Investor Day" at its Seattle headquarters, Starbucks unveiled a plan that aims to tackle both efficiency in its stores and the wellbeing of its disheartened employees, CNBC reports. A core facet of that plan is to add two new employee benefits, which include a Fidelity savings account and "student loan management tools," per Yahoo! Finance. A common demand among union-seeking baristas is higher pay, which Starbucks may be trying to address here. Even so, hundreds of organizers rallied outside the event alongside Workers United (per KING 5). "Starbucks workers are referred to as partners, which is ironic given that the company abjectly refuses to partner with us. They've delayed bargaining," a longtime barista told the outlet.

In addition to worker benefits, CNBC reports that Schultz's plan hopes to "[increase] efficiency" in U.S. cafes to suit customers' evolving post-pandemic coffee habits. Patterns show that customers are ordering more on their phones, which could play into the company's newly announced NFT platform that will debut later this year. In a September 13 statement released on its website, Starbucks writes that its "reinvention" plan will "help streamline the work behind the counter, and enable more time for genuine human connection." The company plans to invest $450 million in its North American stores next year, which will go toward the "modernization" of its existing stores.