Starbucks has announced that it is to close 8% of its 7,000 coffee shops in the US, equivalent to around 600 outlets, over the next year. The company has said that the closures were due to over-aggressive expansion, rather than blaming them solely on the slowing economy. While the group did not specify which stores would be closed, it said that 70% of those earmarked had opened after 2006, leading to about 12,000 employees losing their jobs and resulting in pre-tax charges of more than $300m (£150.5m). Peter Bocian, Starbucks’ chief financial officer, said that the move was aimed at “restoring long-term profitable growth”. He explained that many of the stores set to close had been under review for some time and were not profitable and that the vast majority has been opened near existing Starbucks sites. Bocian said that between 25% and 30% of an existing outlet is cannibalised when a new Starbucks opens nearby and that the closures would return some of the revenue to the remaining stores. Starbucks said it would cut the opening of new locations with fewer than 200 to be unveiled in 2009, down from an initial forecast of 500. Bocian said: “We believe that we still have opportunities to open new locations with strong returns on capital.” The coffee chain’s shares rose 72 cents or 4.6% after the announcement, although they then dropped 12 cents to close at $15.62 on Tuesday.