SINGAPORE (AP) -- Starbucks Corp., the world's largest coffee retailer, plans to triple its coffee shops in Chinaduring the next four years and step up expansion elsewhere in Asia, an executive said Tuesday.
Starbucks plans to operate 1,500 outlets in China by 2015 from a current 470, the company's Asia Pacific president Jinlong Wang said. The company also expects to open 700 coffee shops in South Korea by 2016, up from 370 now, Wang said.
"The coffee industry in China has huge potential," Wang told reporters in Singapore. "China has 5,000 years as a tea-drinking country, but we've created a new coffee culture."
Starbucks is eyeing fast-growing emerging economies to help boost sales. The company said in July that revenue from its international business rose 20 percent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier and accounted for 23 percent of overall sales of $2.93 billion.
Wang said Starbucks sales in Asia have remained robust in recent months despite a slowing global economy.
"We've seen very strong same store sales across Asia, double digit growth in some markets," he said.
Starbucks, which has 17,000 stores in 55 countries, plans to introduce its Via Ready Brew instant coffee this month to South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia.
Since opening its first store in China in 1999, Starbucks has spread to 42 cities, including 10 new ones this year. Starbucks is preparing to open its first outlets in India next year and in Vietnam in 2013, Wang said.