Starbucks, the US coffee-bar giant, has revealed ambitions to make China its second largest market, after the US. Howard Schultz, its chief executive who returned to oversee day-to-day running of the business two years ago, said that he wanted to open “thousands of stores” across China. The group entered mainland China for the first time in 1999, with a shop in Bejing. It now operates 376 stores in the country. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Shultz said: “Over time there will be thousands of stores in China. But it’s a complicated market that requires significant discipline and thoughtfulness. “Cracking the code in China for any company is not an easy task – there will be a number of winners and lots of losers – people who go there and rush to judgement and don’t succeed.” The plan appears to involve focused expansion of the Starbucks brand in hubs where it is proved that coffee will be drunk by domestic Chinese rather than focusing on tourist centres in major cities. Shultz said the company would also look to expand in India and Vietnam. Japan is currently Starbucks’ second biggest market comprising 878 outlets, followed by the UK, where there is about 750 locations.