Starbucks issued a statement saying the company and its CEO do not provide any financial support to Israel or its army. The company updated a 4-year-old statement on its website after the spread of false “rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army,” the statement said, referring to Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s CEO, who is Jewish. The statement, a fact sheet in Q and A form, was updated on Aug. 5.
“Starbucks has been and remains a non-political organization. We do not support any political or religious cause. Additionally, neither Starbucks nor the company’s chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz, provide financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army in any way,” the statement said.
The company said in its statement that it closed its Starbucks stores in Israel in 2003 due to “on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.”
Starbucks has stores in 65 countries, including nearly 600 in 12 Middle Eastern and North African countries such as Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Below are actual questions and answers from Starbucks’ official website:
Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?
No. This is absolutely untrue. Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a publicly held company and as such, is required to disclose any corporate giving each year through a proxy statement.
Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?
No. This is absolutely untrue.
Is it true that Starbucks closed its stores in Israel for political reasons?
No. We do not make business decisions based on political issues. We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market. After many months of discussion with our partner we came to this amicable decision. While this was a difficult decision for both companies, we believe it remains the right decision for our businesses.
Do you have plans to re-open should the opportunity arise?
We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.
When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community. We will therefore continue to assess all opportunities on this basis. At present, we will continue to grow our business in the Middle East as we have been very gratified by the strong reception of the brand in the region. We continue to work closely with our business partner, the Alshaya Group, in developing our plans for the region.
Do you work with a Middle East partner to operate Starbucks stores?
Through a licensing agreement with trading partner and licensee MH Alshaya WLL, a private Kuwait family business, Starbucks has operated in the Middle East since 1999. Today Alshaya Group, recognized as one of the leading and most influential retailing franchisees in the region, operates nearly 600 Starbucks stores in the Middle East and Levant region. In addition to its Starbucks stores, the Alshaya Group operates more than 2,600 retail stores in the Middle East, Russia and North Africa, providing jobs for more than 40,000 employees of more than 110 nationalities.
We are extremely fortunate and proud to have forged a successful partnership for the past fifteen years and look forward to building on this success.
In which Middle Eastern and North African countries do you operate?
We partner with Alshaya Group to operate Starbucks stores in Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates in the Middle East and North Africa region. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many communities, and we are committed to providing the Starbucks Experience while respecting the local customs and cultures of each country we are a part of. We are also committed to hiring locally, providing jobs to thousands of local citizens in the countries where we operate.