Full-year losses at the UK arm of coffee giant Starbucks narrowed during its most recent financial year on the back of cost-saving initiatives, product launches and store openings. The company reported a pre-tax loss of £34.22m for the year to 3 October 2010, down from £52.22m the previous 12 months, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The loss included a £25.3m royalty payment to its US parent company, up from a similar payment of £24.22m in 2009. The group is understood to have also been impacted by a one-off cost of around £10m due to the collapse of the Borders chain, in which it operated 36 coffee bars. The group said that cost saving initiatives resulted in “gross margin increasing from 18% to 19.4%”, while lower interest and fixed asset disposal costs from its restructuring in 2009 also helped in the reduction in loss before tax. Turnover for the year increased by 2% from £388.26m to £396.28m, while the group’s operating loss narrowed from £41.35m to £25.73m. The company said that it had experienced strong growth in like-for-like sales during the 12 months, and that the trend of sales growth had continued into its new financial year. Starbucks UK, which currently operates 717 UK sites, carried out a programme of store developments and refurbishments during the period, while opening its first roadside stores in partnership with Welcome Break and Euro Garages. The group also launched new products into supermarket and grocery channels, such as Doubleshot chilled coffee. Darcy Willson-Rymer, UK managing director, said: "These accounts reflect a period in which the company continued to roll out a number of initiatives to elevate the customer experience in the UK, and to improve the overall performance of the business. Customers have responded inspite of the challenges in the wider economy and comparable same store sales grew throughout the year. “Moving forwards, trading is expected to continue to show positive life-for-like (comparable) store sales which together with the addition of further new stores, at a measured pace, is expected to lead to further improvements in the financial performance of the business.” Separately, Starbucks has announced it will open its first site in Norway early next year. The US coffee chain will open a store at Oslo Airport as part of its strategic partnership with Select Service Partners (SSP).