A waitress serves beverages to customers at a Costa cafe in Chaoyang District, Beijing.(ZHANG WEI/CHINA DAILY)
Starbucks notched up sales worth 12.23 billion yuan ($1.87 billion) in 2015, way ahead of McCafe (1.54 billion yuan) and Costa Coffee (1.50 billion yuan).
"We have more than 2,000 stores in China (in more than 100 cities). We'll add 500 stores per year for the next five years," said Johnson. "We anticipate China's business more than doubled."
Earlier this month, Johnson unveiled Starbucks' plans to extend the Teavana brand into its retail stores in China and Asia Pacific by the end of this year. But there is no plan to expand the exclusive Teavana stores. Starbucks operates about 300 of them in the U.S. and Canada.
Tea sales at Starbucks grew by 17 percent in 2015. All tea categories posted strong growth. Iced tea led the pack with 29 percent year-on-year growth.
Michael Conway, president, global channel development, Starbucks, sees potential for strong growth in the ready-to-drink segment in China. "The China market is a key anchor to our ready-to-drink strategy as we strengthen and build our partnership with Tingyi to a larger number of markets than what we have today and reach more Chinese customers."
In addition to convenience stores, hypermarkets such as Wal-Mart will offer Starbucks ready-to-drink beverages. This will deepen market penetration, he said.
The partnership with Tingyi has enabled Starbucks to make its drinks more relevant to local tastes and make them available in a timely manner.
For example, Starbucks will launch a new ready-to-consume drink this summer. The beverage is tailor-made for Chinese consumers.