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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 11:23 GMT
China central to Starbucks growth
Woman at Starbucks outlet in Beijing
Starbucks is continuing to roll out stores across China
Starbucks has said it expects to see its profits rise by at least 20% over the next three to five years, with China as the focus for this growth.

The US giant opened its first Chinese branch in 1999 and now has 165 outlets.

It said 2005 was its fastest year of growth so far in China and it now intended to roll out more stores in a growing number of cities.

Last month Starbucks won a two-year court battle to prevent a Chinese rival from using a similar logo.

'Passed expectations'

"No market potentially has the opportunities for us as China hopefully will," said Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.

"Even though this is a very early stage, the response to Starbucks in China has exceeded expectations."

Like many Western retailers, Starbucks sees China as its key growth place, due to its fast-growing economy - which is steadily if slowly being opened up to foreign competition - and the sheer size of its population.

Last month a Chinese court ordered indigenous firm Shanghai Xingbake Coffee to pay about $61,900 (35,600) to Starbucks for using a Chinese name and logo similar to Starbucks.

Mr Schultz said Starbucks was still fighting other such cases in the Chinese courts, while Beijing has pledged to better protect international property rights.

Outside of China, Starbucks is also focusing on rolling out a network of branches in both Russia and Brazil.

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