Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008

By John Howell Sr.

Mayor Jerry Autrey said that the owner of the property and building that house Batesville’s Starbucks has an aggressive contingency plan for the property.

Batesville is one of seven Mississippi Starbucks scheduled for closing as part of Starbucks Corporation’s bid to scale back. The plan includes closing 600 company-owned stores in the U. S., according to published reports.

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The city was paid $371,131 for the Starbucks lot in May, 2007. Georgia developer Fred Hand purchased the property, built the building at 100 House-Carlson Drive to Starbucks’ specifications, then leased it to the Seattle-based franchise.

Published reports of the coffee-house franchise chain’s drastic measures to restore profitability have indicated that most of those targeted for closing were built in 2006 and 2007. Business analysts have pointed Starbucks’ shift to an overly aggressive expansion policy that resulted in the chain paying too much for real estate.

In Batesville, the store’s 16 employees will have the option to transfer to jobs at other Starbucks locations, store manager Lacey Lucas-Shipley said.

In a letter to customers posted on the Batesville Starbucks’ bulletin board, Lucas-Shipley said that the closing could occur anytime between September and March 31, 2009.

“Thank you for letting us into your little family and for welcoming us with open arms,” Lucas-Shipley’s letter stated. “We have enjoyed greatly being a part of this community and supporting the youth of Batesville,” the Starbucks manager added.