Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 11:59 UK

Starbucks turns to customer ideas

Starbucks cups
Starbucks hopes to revive its fortunes

Coffee chain giant Starbucks is hoping its loyal customers may be able to brew up the bright ideas to help turn around its struggling fortunes.

The company recently launched a website offering its US customers the chance to pitch ideas for how the firm can improve its stores and operations.

Despite some scepticism from critics, the website has now been flooded with thousands of ideas.

These range from free birthday coffees to express tills for quick orders.

New brew

Starbucks is promoting the new feedback website from its main corporate online page, and also via leaflets at its more than 10,000 US stores.

Hoping that the feedback suggestions will come up with good ideas to boost flagging sales, the Seattle-based chain has also just launched a new cheaper "regular" coffee called Pike Place Roast.

This coffee will be brewed in advance, rather than made individually for each customer, but Starbucks insists that any not sold after 30 minutes will be thrown away.

Hit by accusations that standards have fallen in recent years, in February Starbucks shut all of its US branches for three-and-a-half hours for staff training.

It also announced 600 administrative job cuts as it aims to trim costs.

The moves are all the idea of Starbucks founder and chief executive Howard Schultz who returned to the top job in January following the dismissal of previous boss Jim Donald.

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