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Starbucks’ biggest competition is your neighborhood hipster coffee shop

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SEATTLE, U.S. – Starbucks’ biggest competition isn’t another coffee chain. Instead of worrying about the impact of Dunkin’ Donuts or Tim Hortons, the coffee giant is keeping an eye out on trendy independent shops, according to CFO Scott Maw.

“We’re still not seeing any one competitor or even a smaller number of group of competitors being an influence on our business at any time,” Maw said at the UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference on Thursday.

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“But what we have acknowledged … is the collective group of independent coffee shops out there, they are doing a lot of what Starbucks has been so good at for so long.”

In other words, Dunkin’ Donuts running a promotion isn’t going to hurt Starbucks’ sales. However, the rise of trendy neighborhood shops has the potential to draw customers away from Starbucks in the long term — especially if Starbucks can’t compete when it comes to service and environment.

“It’s that third-place environment, it’s a comfortable place to be, it’s an up-leveled coffee experience,” Maw said. “They’re not taking share [from] us but what we know is if we don’t have our service levels right and customers aren’t engaged in the right way, they now have options.”

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