BEIJING: Starbucks Corp on Thursday launched a partnership with Alibaba Group’s Chinese food delivery platform Ele.me, in a move to shore up sales in its second-largest market and to battle aggressive competition from local coffee start-ups.
Starbucks flagged in June that it was pursuing such a tie-up after reporting a sudden slowdown in China sales growth, which it partly blamed on a government crackdown on third-party delivery firms that had previously helped drive orders at its cafes.
The announcement confirms an earlier report about the proposed tie-up from the South China Morning Post.
The Seattle-based company will begin delivery services in September from 150 Starbucks stores located in key trade zones in Beijing and Shanghai and plans to expand that to more than 2,000 stores across 30 cities by the end of 2018, Starbucks and Alibaba said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The companies will collaborate across businesses within the Alibaba Group, including Ele.me, supermarket chain Hema, online retailers Tmall and Taobao, and mobile and online payment platform Alipay.