SEATTLE -- Java junkies often must journey more than two blocks to find a Starbucks, which the company sees as a problem, its chief executive said Thursday.
As a fix, Starbucks plans to more than triple the number of its worldwide outlets to 30,000, with half of those in the United States.
Starbucks will focus its growth in American suburbs and small towns, with many of the new coffee shops being drive-throughs. It currently has about 8,500 stores, including 6,100 in the United States.
One reason for Starbucks' rapid expansion is demographic. Smith said the company is seeing younger, less affluent, less educated and more ethnically diverse customers.
Starbucks also thinks it can open more stores in big cities. Through licensing deals, the company also is expanding in grocery stores, airports and other locations.
Smith announced his retirement earlier this week. He'll be replaced early next year by another Starbucks executive, Jim Donald.