Starbucks Investors on High-Alert in the Midst of Layoffs

Starbucks is about to cut some jobs and expand some roles.

As Starbucks gears up for the fall-themed drink season, it’s also set to restructure as a company. CEO Kevin Johnson sent out a memo in late September 2018 that promised leadership changes and “some job losses, some role expansions, and redeployments,” reported Reuters. The restructuring might be a response to changing markets; in June 2018, Starbucks announced plans to close 150 stores, about three times what it usually eliminates. This might also be part of the reason why the company’s famed Pumpkin Spice Latte made its annual appearance on Aug. 28 this year.

The date marked the drink’s earliest arrival since 2014, when only select customers received the drink on Aug. 26, according to Business Insider. Starbucks likely launched the beverage early to boost sales in light of recent events that might have hurt the company’s business.

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And there’s no doubt that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is an annual hit: Starbucks has made more than $70 million from the drink since 2003. It makes sense that Starbucks would want to continue capitalizing on the popular beverage.

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The annual launch this year, which synced up with coffee-drinking students going back to school, underscores the sense of financial urgency rather than kicking off the fall season with its release. Besides closing more stores this year, the coffee company’s stock price performance has been flat, rising only about 1 percent in a thriving market.

In addition, Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson announced in the first part of 2017 that the company’s newest specialty beverages weren’t selling as well as hoped. In 2017, the company’s total revenue was approximately $22.4 billion, slightly up from $21.3 billion in 2016.

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Although Starbucks introduced some new holiday drinks in 2017, its main holiday drinks have been:

  • Peppermint Mocha
  • Caramel Brulee Latte
  • Chestnut Praline Latte

Aside from holiday beverages, Starbucks reported on Instagram in August that its top-selling beverages on college campuses are:

  • Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice
  • White Mocha Frappuccino (with an espresso shot)
  • Triple Grande Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte
  • Iced Coconut Milk Latte
  • Espresso Frappuccino

So although it seems that there are some favorites that stand out, the one drink Starbucks can count on to bring in the big bucks each year is its Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even though the beverage has some social-media haters — including, possibly, some investors — there are plenty of people who are ordering the drink this season.

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Sean Dennison contributed to the reporting for this article.