Baked-goods sales rising at Starbucks

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Starbucks was never exactly known for its croissants -- or any of the baked goods, for that matter.

Now, however, the company is seeing early signs of promise for its revamped lineup of sweets, which has made its way to about a third of its U.S. cafes. In an earnings call this week, Starbucks' chief financial officer Troy Alstead said croissant sales have doubled wherever the new recipes have been introduced.

The changes started back in 2012, after Starbucks paid $100 million to acquire La Boulange, a small bakery chain based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Starbucks had long been criticized for its underwhelming baked goods, so the company saw it as an opportunity to improve its image -- and significantly boost sales.

The idea: Get more people to add a croissant or a lemon loaf to their purchase whenever they stop in for a latte. Right now only about a third of transactions include food.

Alstead said the staggered rollout of the new baked goods is "a big operational change," partly because the new items must be warmed up in ovens, and Starbucks needs to be careful the warming process doesn't slow down operations, which in turn could drive away impatient customers. -- AP

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