Starbucks mulls selling its UK operations- Times

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester

(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp is exploring a sale of its UK operations as it faces competition from newer operators, The Times reported on Saturday citing sources.

The coffee chain has asked Houlihan Lokey Inc to canvass interest for its UK business, the report said adding that the company has been facing competition from rival coffee chains like Pret A Manger, Tim Hortons and Costa.

Starbucks' UK business oversees more than 1000 coffee shops in UK and employs around 4000 people there, the report said.

According to the Times report, the company has not initiated a "formal sales process" of its UK business and it continued to "evaluate strategic options" for its company-owned international operations.

The company did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment outside business hours.

The company suspended its guidance for the fiscal year in its last quarter earnings report after missing Wall Street targets due to China's tough COVID-19 curbs which impacted their sales in the country.

The company which has been dealing with recent unionization efforts of its U.S. workforce is looking for a permanent successor meanwhile Howard Schultz remains the interim CEO.

(Reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; editing by Diane Craft)