Starbucks wants to transform stores to speed up service and boost morale

Starbucks __ hits record sales but struggles with low employee morale __ plans to spend $450 million next year to make its North American operations more efficient and less complex.

The company also plans to open 2,000 net new stores in the U.S. by 2025, with a focus on meeting growing demand for new types of services, including drive-thru, mobile ordering and delivery. For example, drive-thru now accounts for 50% of U.S. sales, while demand for delivery is up 24% so far this year.

“It is clear that our physical stores need to change. Our physical stores were built for another era,” Starbucks chief operating officer John Culver said at a day-long event for investors in Seattle on Tuesday.

Culver said customizable cold beverages __, which now account for up to 75% of Starbucks’ U.S. beverage orders, __ put a strain on staff in kitchens designed for simpler hot beverages. Starbucks introduced a new workstation that requires less movement and can shave 50 seconds off the process of making a blended iced mocha. It also announced a new patented technology that will reduce the time it takes to prepare cold brew coffee from 20 hours to just a few seconds.

The introduction of an increasing number of hot dishes is also slowing down Starbucks kitchens. Culver said Starbucks expects to serve 300 million breakfast sandwiches in the US this year, each of which takes up to 85 seconds to warm up in its ovens. Starbucks plans to batch cook them and store them in warmers next to the drive-through windows.

The company announced other upcoming benefits for workers, including more flexible schedules, more generous sick leave and expanded tipping opportunities for mobile customers.

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