Andy Adams, Vice President of Store Development for Starbucks Asia Pacific, talks homogeny, design and sustainability with Ashford Pritchard.
Andy Adams, Vice President of Store Development for Starbucks Asia Pacific
Bouncing into the store with a zeal that only a caffeine high can give you, Andy Adams'
enthusiasm for all things Starbucks is apparent as he
takes me on a tour of the coffee conglomerate's latest Hong Kong branch on Central's Duddell Street, which was a collaborative effort with local design doyens G.O.D. First things first, the most obvious and important question of the day must be asked: what is his
favourite morning pick-me-up?
"Double tall soy latte," he
reveals, "You get the feeling that the soy is good for you, the double because I need the extra espresso in the morning, and the tall so that even if the soy isn't good for you, it doesn't have too much sugar."
Serious business over with, Adams
describes the path he
took to his
current role, where he
overseas store design and development for the Seattle-based food and beverage empire across 10 regions which comprise most of Asia Pacific, excluding China and India.
It was while working for a real estate development company in Canada that he
first came into contact with Starbucks
"We were doing site selection for retailers as well as ground-up retail development.
was one of our clients," he
Five years ago he
made the leap, and started looking after real estate for the Eastern Canada region, before stepping up to store development for all of Canada and then, just over a year ago, came out to Asia Pacific.
"Our biggest challenge is that in North America, the majority of our businesses are company owned [where Starbucks
both owns and operates its stores] but in Asia Pacific we have a mix of joint-venture partnerships, licensed arrangements and then company owned businesses," says Adams
This means that the company is managing into another business, either as a partner or licensor.
"In Asia Pacific, I'd say essentially our success, and the reason we're close to 2000 stores today is primarily because we have strong partners and because of our ability to execute the Starbucks concept, designs and operations standards across the region.
"Ubiquity Using terms like "store growth velocity", Adams forecasts another 120 Starbucks stores in Asia Pacific this year.
Critics of the coffee chain, who claim its ubiquity is on a par with McDonalds, being on every corner in every major city, often point to the cookie-cutter design and realisation of the stores.
respectfully disagrees, saying "There's been a lot of talk about the homogeny of Starbucks
, and the fast pace of growth.
"We build a set of palettes, colours, options and design concepts that can be used in a variety of circumstances, but also vary, so that they speak to the local environment," Adams
So a Hong Kong outlet may have artwork that reflects the history of the locale.
One store in Kobe, Japan occupies a renovated house, thus the design mimics a living room.
Consistency is achieved, he
says, "because we are using the same set of tools that all the designers have, but are applying it so that it's relevant to the customer and the location."
says that community engagement has been central to the Starbucks ethos since the company was founded over 30 years ago, but conceded that "we haven't always communicated that externally as well as we should be.
"The built environment plays an important part in "Shared Planet", and store design will be particularly vital.
"Our store designs fit into Shared Planet because we are looking at sustainable business practices and green building," says Adams
outlines the secret to global domination: "It comes back to real estate being local, you need to understand who the customer is, it doesn't matter if it's an office project or an industrial site, you need to take those same principles and apply it to a 200 sqm coffee house.