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Starbucks to close most of its shops in Australia by August 3

Starbucks will close more than two-thirds of its 84 stores in Australia by the end of the week under a restructuring plan announced Tuesday that will put almost 700 people out of work.

The surprise announcement came a few weeks after the global coffee shop franchise that has become ubiquitous around the world announced it was closing 600 company-owned stores in the United Sates to bolster its business.

Starbucks Coffee International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle, Washington-based Starbucks Coffee Co., said it was closing the Australia stores to concentrate its business in the country's three largest cities.

There are 84 stores operating in six of Australia's eight states and territories, but 61 will close by Aug. 3, Starbucks said on its Web site. Twenty-three stores will remain open in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The company said 685 jobs would be lost because of the closures, Australian media reported.

Starbucks will post a list of stores that will close on its Web site as soon as it notifies all the employees that will be affected.

"We would like to thank all of our customers for your continued patronage and support during the past eight years," Starbucks said.

Starbucks Co. is due to report its third-quarter earnings in the United States this week. The company has spent recent months attempting to reinvigorate its U.S. business by introducing new products and scaling back its plans for growth.

While the company's plans to close stores in the United Sates led to criticism that the company had grown too quickly, the scene internationally has looked better. The company says it plans to open 975 new international locations this year.

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