Starbucks to close all 8,000 US stores for afternoon of racial-bias training

The mass closure on May 29th follows the arrest of two black men at a branch in Philadelphia

Starbucks to close all 8,000 US stores for afternoon of racial-bias training

Picture by: Richard B. Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images

Starbucks has announced it will close all of its more than 8,000 company-owned outlets in the US for an afternoon next month to give staff 'racial-bias education'.

It follows uproar about the arrest of two black men as they waited for a friend at a branch in Philadelphia.

The men were asked to leave, before being arrested for 'trespassing'. No charges were filed against the pair.

The incident was captured on video and shared on social media, prompting protests and calls for a boycott of the coffee chain.

Philadelphia police form a line in front of the Starbucks that was at the center of a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday, April 15, 2018. Picture by: Michael Bryant/AP/Press Association Images

It was described by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as an "ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans".

The coffee company's CEO has already personally apologised to those involved, and is said to have had 'constructive discussions' with the two men about what can be done in response.

The company now says it will close its stores on the afternoon of May 29th, with a training curriculum to be developed with help from civil liberty groups and the former US attorney general Eric Holder.

Explaining the move, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said: "I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it.

"While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities."

The company has already announced a review of its training and practices in the wake of the recent incident.