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Starbucks to close stores to retrain employees

SEATTLE Moving to the next stage of a planned transformation to reinvigorate sales, Starbucks Coffee Corp. said it would close nearly 7,000 company-operated stores for three hours in the evening on Feb. 26 for in-store training.

On the agenda is a refresher on espresso standards for baristas, including how to pull the perfect shot, steam milk to order and customize beverages. Stores will close at 5:30 p.m. local time for the training, and those with evening hours will reopen about three hours later. More than 135,000 Starbucks employees are expected to participate, the company said.

“Our unprecedented level of commitment to and investment in our people will provide them with the tools and resources they need to exceed the expectations of our customers,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive.

In January, Schultz announced plans to overhaul the coffeehouse chain in an effort to reignite the personal attachment customers feel for the Starbucks brand. In addition to a management reshuffling, Starbucks announced plans to close 100 underperforming stores and slow down new domestic openings.

On Monday, Starbucks said it has partnered with AT&T to offer a mix of free and paid wireless Internet access in its U.S. company stores, starting this spring. Registered holders of Starbucks Cards will get two free hours of Wi-Fi access per day. Other Starbucks customers will be able to buy tiered access to the AT&T Wi-Fi network at Starbucks.

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