Starbucks drinks to a recovery

IF the coffee business is a barometer of consumer confidence, things may be picking up for the UK economy.<br /><br />Starbucks UK boss Darcy Willson&ndash;Rymes yesterday told City A.M. that over the last couple of months its UK coffee shops have sold more on a like&ndash;for&ndash;like basis than the same period the year before.<br /><br />The lift in sales follows &ldquo;the toughest trading Starbucks has ever seen&rdquo; as consumers cut back on frivolous cappuccino spending.<br /><br />The upturn comes as Starbucks yesterday made 100 per cent of all the coffee it serves in the UK and Ireland Fairtrade.<br /><br />The move means that Starbucks will serve six times more Faitrade coffee to the 4m customers it draws in a week for a caffeine fix and raises the total Fairtrade coffee market by 18 per cent. The deal also means an additional &pound;2.5m from Starbucks will go to small-scale coffee farmers.<br /><br />Willson-Rymes said that the move would not &ldquo;have the effect of pushing up prices for consumers&rdquo; but said Starbucks had &ldquo;no plans as yet&rdquo; to roll out the scheme across the rest of its global consumer base.