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    Starbucks Closing Some Save Mart/Lucky Sites, but Still Eyes CPG Sector for Growth

    By the end of 2008, the coffee giant anticipates nearly 4,000 grocery retailers nationwide will "transform their coffee aisles" with the Center Store CafE merchandising concept.

    Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks Corp. has been in transition since c.e.o. Howard Schultz took over in January, but it's still eyeing the CPG division for future growth, the company has confirmed. Among those plans is an increase in its "center store cafE" concept, a merchandising initiative that promotes Starbucks' shelf-stable and refrigerated products in grocers' center store sections.

    During a press event yesterday in New York City, the company said that by the end of 2008, it anticipates nearly 4,000 grocery retailers nationwide will "transform their coffee aisles" with the Center Store CafE concept. Currently at least 2,000 grocers are using the setup, which features distinctive wood and iron-work and showcases Starbucks' coffee blends and accessories. The sections have increased coffee sales by more than 9 percent, according to the company. Cincinnati-based Kroger and Indianapolis-based Meijer are two grocers that have been particularly supportive of the concept, a Starbucks spokeswoman said.

    Separately, it appears that Starbucks is cutting down on some of its in-store cafes. The company has reportedly terminated a license deal that involves 45 sites located inside Save Mart Supermarkets and Lucky Supermarket locations in northern California and Nevada.

    A Starbucks spokeswoman said the company decided not to renew its license with the supermarkets because "it wasn't the right thing for our business at this time," according to press reports.

    She said the 45 stores aren't part of the 100 "underperforming" U.S. stores that Starbucks plans to shut down by September.

    In other Starbucks news, the company has launched a new Web site for consumers, which lets coffee connoisseurs find their perfect blend by taking a short quiz or learn more about specific blends at Starbucks. The site's address is www.starbucks.com/coffeeathome.

    Another new Web site, "My Starbucks Idea," lets people submit ideas on how to improve the Starbucks experience. Forty-eight "idea partners" at Starbucks comb the site every day to look for promising ideas.

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