US coffee house Starbucks has begun work this week on a $170m first phase of its “Coffee Innovation Park” in the Chinese city of Kunshan, in the western outskirts of Shanghai.
The 80,000-sq-m park is located in Kunshan’s economic and technological development zone, and according to Starbucks it will be its greenest-ever coffee roasting facility, using 30% less energy than a traditional plant of the same size.
The development reflects the growing importance of the Chinese market to the Seattle company; it is its second largest, and sales there grew 7% year-on-year in the latest fiscal quarter, whereas they fell 9% in the US.
The chain now has more than 4,700 stores in nearly 190 cities in the Chinese mainland and set a new quarterly store-opening record in the three months to the end of September. In the period, Starbucks opened 480 stores worldwide, 259 of which were in China.