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Kuwait’s Alshaya lays off Mena Starbucks staff

A Starbucks cafe in Beirut, Lebanon. Jobs are being cut due to 'continually challenging trading conditions' in the Mena region Reuters/Jamal Saidi
A Starbucks cafe in Beirut, Lebanon. Jobs are being cut due to 'continually challenging trading conditions' in the Mena region
  • Job losses estimated at 2,000
  • Boycott calls related to Gaza conflict
  • Starbucks rebuts bias accusations

Kuwait’s Alshaya Group, one of the Gulf’s largest franchise owners, is cutting jobs at its Starbucks outlets.  

The coffee brand has suffered from calls for a boycott since the start of the Gaza conflict.

“As a result of the continually challenging trading conditions over the last six months, we have taken the sad and very difficult decision to reduce the number of colleagues in our Starbucks Mena stores,” an Alshaya Group spokesperson said.

Stories have circulated about Starbucks’ perceived pro-Israel stance but the company has denied this is the case, saying that they “stand for humanity”.

While Alshaya Group did not confirm the number of employees leaving, sources told Reuters the number was about 2,000.

“We will ensure that we give our colleagues leaving the business, and their families, the support they need,” the statement added.

The Kuwaiti retailer operates 70 brands in 4,000 stores across 18 countries. It has been running the Starbucks brand for over 25 years and has 1,300 coffee shops and 11,000 staff in 17 countries.

Reuters reported last month that Alshaya Group was in talks to sell a minority stake in its regional Starbucks business, with US private equity company Apollo Global Management one of the potential bidders.

Alshaya Group has declined to comment on the reports.

Starbucks has experienced protests since the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ surprise attack on October 7, with business in the region down on market expectations in the first quarter. 

Alshaya Group in January confirmed that it is scaling back its operations in Egypt due to “the difficulties faced by overseas businesses” in the North African country.

Bloomberg reported that about 60 stores will be closed and around 375 employees laid off.

Americana Restaurants International, which runs 2,435 outlets across the region covering brands including KFC, Hardee’s, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s and Krispy Kreme, have also reported that revenue fell 15 percent year on year in the last three months of 2023, with profit across the same period down by nearly half.

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