When the economy is near stagnant, unemployment is rising, airlines are closing, the Omicron variant is fuelling the pandemic and load shedding has become a daily fact of life; we all need some good news. That’s why it’s so heartening to see Starbucks South Africa bucking the trend of closures and retrenchments and pushing for full vaccination of all staff in its stores.
It’s this spirit of innovation and determination that typifies the brief but stellar history of Starbucks in South Africa since it came under the stewardship of its new licensee in December 2019. Having inherited a mere 13 stores after five years under its previous owners, Maizey and his team set out plans to restructure the business model using economies of scale to deliver the international Starbucks experience to South Africans.
The growth plans accelerated through a relationship with Shoprite Checkers. “The new Starbucks kiosks in the FreshX supermarkets is a perfect partnership for us,” Maizey says. “It helps extend the Starbucks offering into regions and neighbourhoods where we otherwise might not be able to reach and gives us access to their incredible leadership and innovation. Also — sitting in these beautiful, world-class, fresh food deli environments of the upmarket FreshX stores is a fitting partnership for Starbucks (2+2=5, as we say in our partnership).”
So, just over two years down the line, having ploughed through the roughest twenty months in recent memory, how has Starbucks fared in South Africa? “In 2019, we set out to build 30 new stores by March 2022. Despite the macro interruptions this year and last, including the pandemic and related lockdowns, looting, metal workers strike, load and water-shedding, we will have managed to open a total of 41 by the end of this month, for a total of 54 stores. So, we’re way ahead of schedule with more stores opening in the new year.”
Recognising the scientific evidence supporting the power of vaccinations to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, Rand Capital Coffee is keen to ensure that all their employees (and customers) are protected and has encouraged all employees to be vaccinated. “In just one month, over a quarter of our stores achieved fully vaccinated status. By fully vaccinated, we mean every employee in the store is vaccinated”, Maizey said.
In describing the balance of proposing voluntary vaccinations as opposed to making it an operational imperative, Maizey, said, “The Starbucks brand is human-centred, with a strong focus on the wellbeing of its people, the planet and our guests. Our mission is to create human connections through coffee and conversations. My hope with the vaccination drive is that our employees will discuss the merits of being vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our guests from the virus. So, we provided information and opportunities for everyone to get vaccinated, set out an incentive reward and left it up to the people in our stores to make what they believe to be the right call. So far, I’m delighted to say that as of the end of November, we already had ten stores with 100% fully vaccinated status, and we hope to have more by the end of the year.”
Leading by Example
To date, the Starbucks outlets boasting 100% vaccination status include:
- Canal Walk, Cape Town
- West Coast Village, Cape Town
- Linden, Johannesburg
- Rosebank, Johannesburg
- Sandton City, Johannesburg
- Centurion Mall, Pretoria
- Constantia Emporium Checkers FreshX, Cape Town
- Canal Walk Checkers FreshX, Cape Town
- Rosebank Mall Checkers FreshX, Johannesburg
- Somerset Mall, Western Cape
As we move deeper into the holiday season, Maizey believes many South Africans will be looking for places and opportunities to gather, celebrate the end of a tough year and safely enjoy each other’s company. “Protecting our people is the right thing to do,” Maizey says. “It’s equally important that we do our best to provide a safe space for our guests. Somewhere they can happily and confidently experience one of the great joys of life — connecting over superb coffee and conversations.”
Look out for a local Starbucks near you today — or tomorrow, or next year — and pull in and park off to savour a local taste of this iconic global phenomenon.
For more information, visit www.starbucks.co.za.