Starbucks to close 8,000 branches for afternoon of racial bias training after discrimination row


Starbucks will close more than 8,000 US stores for an afternoon of racial bias training after the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia branch triggered claims of discrimination. 

Almost 175,000 workers will go through training on May 29, the company announced on Tuesday after footage of the arrest made headlines. 

Kevin Johnson, the Starbucks CEO, said the move was just “one step” in the company’s “journey” to improve and understand “what we did wrong”. 

Footage of the arrest taken by other customers had gone viral in recent days and prompted a slew of negative headlines for the company. 

The two black men had been waiting for a friend when they were asked to leave by staff.

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He told ABC News: "The circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome in our store on Thursday were reprehensible… they were wrong."

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson said in a statement: “I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it. 

Starbucks's US stores will close on May 29Credit:
AP Photo/Lisa Poole

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

The training on May 29 will “address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome”. 

Starbucks has more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States which are all closing.