Starbucks Relocates Portland’s Tazo Tea to Seattle

KENT, Wash.

Tazo Tea is relocating from Portland, Ore. to an expanded Starbucks roasting facility near Seattle.

The production and logistics team will join Tazo’s executive staff currently working in the Seattle headquarters of the $1.3 billion tea company.

Company spokesperson Alan Hilowitz said 37 Portland-based employees were offered new jobs in Kent, Wash., along with relocation packages. Those who wish to remain in Portland will be offered positions at the company’s more than 60 coffee shops. Others may opt for a severance package and job placement services as the transition begins in April 2012.

Hilowitz said Tazo has outgrown its Portland location and cited efficiencies in logistics for the move which will be completed by Nov. 1, 2012. Starbucks is consolidating its roasting operations and transportation hub in Kent where it has a large manufacturing facility.

Starbucks acquired Tazo in 1999 and later upgraded its manufacturing facility where it currently occupies 80,000 sq. ft. in two buildings. Distribution has since been shifted to Kent where the tea is transported with coffee to domestic grocery outlets, foodservice customers and the many Starbucks locations nationwide. SEE: Starbucks Bolsters Tazo Tea for Retail Growth.

Starbucks acquired Tazo for $8 million from Stash Tea co-founder Steve Smith in 1999. In July Starbucks named its Chief Marketing Officer Annie Young-Scrivner to lead the brand and she subsequently hired Charles Cain to head operations. Cain is former business development director at Adagio Teas. Tazo sells a broad range of tea from bottled and foodservice concentrate to loose leaf, teabags and sachets.

In its fourth quarter earnings report, Starbucks disclosed plans to invest millions to upgrade its Kent roasting plant as part of a campaign to expand its domestic production capabilities.

The nation’s largest coffee chain currently roasts in Kent; Sandy Run, S.C.; Carson Valley, Nev.; York, Pa. and plans to add a fifth U.S. roasting facility in an undisclosed location during the next 18 months. European and Middle Eastern customers are serviced by a roasting operation based in Amsterdam.

Sources: Portland Oregonian