SEATTLE ( TheStreet) -- Starbucks ( SBUX) said the global economic recovery is prompting it to open an average of more than one store each day before the end of its current fiscal year. "Our ability to navigate through the financial crisis and come out much stronger gives us reason to start growing the company again," CEO Howard Schultz told Bloomberg in an interview in China's Yunnan province.
Shultz told the news outlet that Starbucks plans to open 500 stores this fiscal year, 400 of which will be outside the U.S. China will be the coffee shop chain's biggest growth market over the next two years, the report said, and Middle Kingdom consumers can expect to choose from over 1,000 Starbucks locations in the country in the "near future," according to the company's China chief, Jinlong Wang. Shultz did not say how many of the new stores would be opened in China, but said "I think the opportunity that we have in China -- we've underestimated it in terms of the number of stores and the reach that Starbucks is going to have." In 2008, Starbucks closed 600 stores in the U.S. it said were not profitable, many of which had been open just a few years, ending a period of rapid expansion. In the same year, the company opened 1,669 stores, according to its website. In fiscal 2009, Starbucks closed 45 stores, and then opened 223 in fiscal 2010, which ended Oct. 3. There are around 800 Starbucks stores in the Greater China region, Bloomberg reported, half of which are in mainland China, excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.