When we brought 10,000 partners together in New Orleans last October, Starbucks was at a crossroads.
We had just completed a very difF cult F scal 2008, and after 16 years of continuous growth as a public
company, we were for the F rst time talking about slowing growth, store closures and cost reductions.
Consumer conF dence was approaching all-time lows, and both Wall Street and Main Street were reeling.
In the face of these challenges, we made what many believed to be a controversial decision to invest in our
people. ±or me, the decision was obvious. The core of our brand and of our success for more than three
decades has been our partners. Our future growth depends on them, and on staying true to the values that
made Starbucks the world-class brand it is today.
At our Leadership Conference, we asked our partners to make a commitment to doing business in a new
way. (What you see on the cover of this report is the Commitment Wall—which 10,000 partners from all over
North America signed.) We asked them to operate their stores as if they
were their own businesses, to deliver an experience that would engage
our customers and to get involved with their communities as never
before. We also introduced them to new tools and technology we knew
they needed to meet these objectives. Most important, we reenergized
our partners and sent them back to their stores to deliver results.
Our store partners are now better equipped to operate in a different
environment, with a renewed focus on what has deF ned Starbucks
for all these years: our coffee, our customers, our stores and the
communities we serve. Starbucks, too, is ready for the realities of
today’s difF cult business environment, with a relentless focus on
remaining true to who we are and on our responsibility to shareholders.
While the year presented us—along with most other retailers—with
signiF cant challenges, it also gave us the best evidence yet that
the Starbucks brand remains relevant and powerful, and that our
customers remain loyal and invested in our success. In spite of the economy, as I write this, Starbucks
business fundamentals are strong: we have more than 160,000 partners who handle approximately 50 million
transactions every week in our nearly 17,000 stores in 49 countries. We generate strong cash ﬂ ow and have