Starbucks Coffee Japan has significantly cut its full-year net forecast to a net loss of ¥500m (US$4.1m) from a previous forecast of a ¥950m net profit.

The company, which is the Japanese unit of US coffee giant Starbucks, attributed the fall in profits to a cooling off of sales at its stores, but denied that the new forecast would have a major effect on its plans for expansion. The company plans to increase its 416 stores in Japan to 500 by September 2003.

Excluding new stores, sales at Starbucks' Japanese stores have been falling for 15 months and the chain said it is particularly concerned about an 18% year-on-year fall in sales in October.

For 2001/02 the company reported a ¥735m net profit, reported Reuters.