Starbucks is to close around 600 underperforming stores in the US as part of its "transformation strategy". The stores are expected to close over the remaining part of this financial year, and second half of next.

"In January, we committed to transforming the company through a series of critical and strategic initiatives to improve the current state of our US business and build the business for the long-term," said Starbucks boss Howard Schultz. "Our executive and field leadership teams conducted an extensive review of our US company-operated store portfolio, with a goal of enabling our organisation to focus its efforts on locations where we can more effectively improve the customer experience."

Approximately 70% of the stores targeted for closure have opened since the beginning of 2006. The underperforming stores were selected based on current performance and predicted future returns. The company hopes to relocate many of the full-time and part-time employees to nearby store locations.

Starbucks, which currently has more than 7,500 company-operated US stores, expects to open fewer than 200 new company-operated stores worldwide in the next financial year.