Starbucks has been looking to close a number of stores which have high rents in a bid to make its UK business more profitable.

Troy Alstead, chief financial officer for the coffee chain, was in parliament yesterday, alongside senior figures from the likes of Google and Amazon, defending Starbucks’ tax-paying set-up in the UK.

MPs criticised the coffee chain for not paying anything in UK corporation tax last year. The firm said this was due to poor performance in its UK stores, and denied tax avoidance. However it admitted it had secured a favourable tax ruling from the Dutch government.

Austin Mitchell MP was reported to have said: “You’re either running the business badly, or there’s some fiddle going on.”

In 2011, Starbucks UK made a £32.9m loss, but costs of sales listed with Companies House were a staggering £319m, which included £124m in staff costs, an undisclosed amount of money paid in rent, and an £8.9m tax credit from 2010.

Last month, British Baker reported that Kris Engskov, managing director of Starbucks UK had defended the company’s controversial non-payment of corporation tax, saying it had had a “dismal” performance in this country.