] g '/ STA CKS CEO GURNANEY O PANDEMIC AND ITS IMPACT P P6 'This crisis will drive digital innovations' Shuchi Bansal shuchi.b@livemint com NEW DELHI arlier this month, global coffee retailer Starbucks announced the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program as part of its $10-million commitment to support its employees around the world who have been impacted by covid-19. In India, Starbucks has a presence througha 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, and operates 185 stores. In an interview, the CEO Navin Gurnaney speaks about the crisis and how it is going tochangethe world. Edited excerpts: How has your sector been affected by the nationwide lockdown? These are unprecedented times for all businesses and individuals. However, Our focusrightnow is safety and we are hopeful that business will resume slowly but positively once we overcome this. In keeping with governmentregulations, we have started delivery from select stores and will continueto thoughtfully expand delivery operations as we move ahead. Are you planning salary or job cuts? Whatis your manpower in India? At Tata Starbucks, we always put our partners (employees) and our customers before everything else. As part of our deeply grounded commitment to partner care, we have extended partner benefits and are offering new resources to support partners and their families in response to the unprecedented impact of covid-19. Partners are being supported with pay and accessto medical assistance; those diagnosed with covid-19 will be granted paid leave until they recover fully and cleared to return to work. Additionally, Starbucks has announced acommitment of $10 million to establish the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program as part of its ongoing efforts to support partners. We currently stand at more than 2,000 partners in India. Is India staring at a recession? How severe do you feel it would be? Itwill oe premature at this stage to discuss about what will happen with the economy. Im sure, currently, the government and all of us are prioritizing the health of our people over everything else. However, the post-covid-19 phase will see some sectors take longer to bounce back, while all of us emotionally, physically and Tata Starbucks' optimism and commitment to the long-term growth potential in India W remains intact during the period of crisis, says chief executive officer Navin Gurnaney. financially recover from this. Can consumer demand be revived after the lockdown is lifted? What measures will you take to stay in the ame? CEO SPEAK $ This pandemic is going to set anew normal in human behaviour. Even after the crisis blows over, customers are going to take time to recover and come back to their usual routines. This situation is, however, going to drive digital innovationsin a launch India's first drive thru store to allow customers to engage with the brand innew and innovative ways. What are the prospects for Starbucks once normalcy returns aspeople may still be wary of eating out? We are confident of the relationships we have built with each of our loyal customers and we are certain the Starbucks experience will bring them back. Such a crisis requires us to remain patient, and we are dealing with this on a case-to-case scenario"one person, one big way. For years, Starbucks Even after the cup and one neighbourhood globally has one of the best crisis blows over, at a time". Whatever we do, omnichannel retail expericustomers are we will keep safety of our ences through concepts like going to take time people as our Priority, even electronic payments, mobile after resuming business. . torecover and Nt a apps, pickup-only stores or Will life and business as come back to third-party delivery networksto make the Starbucks experience more ubiquitous. At Tata Starbucks, we are using these unique experiences to build our brand and makeit ready for the future. Thelaunch ofthe Starbucks Mobile Order Payment app will allow customers to order beverages on their mobile and just pickthem up from the store, reducing the time spent in ordering in lines. We will continue to focus on delivery and also their routines we know them change forever post-covid-19? The world may not be the same again. The rules of business will change. And brands that can use this opportunity to build a world that is more compassionate, connected, experiential and meaningful will emerge stronger on the other side. Our optimism and commitmentto the long-term growth potential in India remains intact during the crisis period.