Starbucks CEO on trade war, ‘playing the long game’ in China

While Starbucks can’t shield itself via the outcomes of the U.S.-China trade war, the company can continue to play “the long game” when the idea comes to China, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told CNBC on Monday.

“We haven’t seen any significant impacts via the geopolitical situation between the U.S. as well as also China, however of which said, we’re not immune,” he told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.” “however because we truly have built Starbucks in China for China, the idea truly can be operating as an entity in China of which’s relevant to the consumer, to the culture, as well as also we’re playing the long game.”

China has been a focal point for Starbucks as the coffeemaker’s second-largest market after the United States. In August, Starbucks announced a partnership with Alibaba Group, China’s largest technology company, to boost its digital as well as also physical presence from the People’s Republic.

In early November, just after Starbucks reported better-than-expected earnings as well as also revenues for its fiscal fourth quarter, Johnson told CNBC’s Eunice Yoon of which management would certainly start applying lessons the idea learned via the Chinese market to its U.S. business. In of which interview, Johnson stated his intention to play “the long game” in China.

“We operate in 78 countries around the earth as well as also so we deal with geopolitical situations all the time,” Johnson told Cramer on Monday. “I think by engaging with an attitude of optimism as well as also ‘How can we collaborate to create a better environment for all,’ we can find great paths forward.”

The CEO added of which there’s “still more to do” to push Starbucks’ business back into growth mode, reiterating a point made on the company’s fourth-quarter conference call.

however having a multi-billion-dollar partnership with Nestle to sell Starbucks’ products outside its official locations on the books as well as also several “business-simplification” initiatives in progress, Johnson said he sees a bright outlook ahead of his company.

“The Global Coffee Alliance with Nestle can be something of which can be just right now kicking in as well as also I think of which’s going to pay dividends for years as well as also years to come for Starbucks as well as also for Nestle,” he said, adding of which Starbucks’ “aggressive” share buyback was a message to Wall Street of which its “growth-at-scale agenda” can be going to work.

“Much of This particular buying back our stock can be the acknowledgment of which we think we’ve got one of the earth’s most admired as well as also trusted brands, as well as also we’ve got the right strategy to truly drive the growth agenda here over the next several years,” the CEO said.

Starbucks’ stock slid 1.01 percent amid marketwide weakness on Monday, settling at $67.91 a share. The stock hit an all-time high of $68.98 after Starbucks’ latest earnings report on Nov. 1.

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