The international operations arm of US coffee shop chain Starbucks has announced it has acquired its licensed operations in Germany from its partner, German retailer KarstadtQuelle.

The joint venture between KarstadtQuelle and Starbucks Coffee International was established in autumn 2001 with 82% and 18% respective ownership. In May 2002, the first two Starbucks coffeehouses were opened in Berlin. Starbucks now operates 37 retail locations in 15 German cities.

KarstadtQuelle said the sale to Starbucks was part of a plan to strengthen its focus on its core business. Following the German company's decision to refocus on its core business, Starbucks said it had agreed to buy back the operations from KarstadtQuelle.

"One of Starbucks strategic priorities is to increase the company's investment in key markets," said Julio Gutierrez, president of Starbucks Coffee Europe, Middle East and Africa. "This acquisition is in line with our expansion plans and it allows us greater influence over the brand in Germany as we continue to grow in this important market. Germany has the potential to be one of the biggest markets for us in Europe, and we are strongly committed to long-term growth."