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Starbucks CEO Schultz to Focus on Mobile, Digital Efforts

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[Boston.com]

This Friday, Jan. 17, 2014,  photo, shows Starbucks mugs in a cafe in North Andover, Mass. Starbucks reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

This Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, photo, shows Starbucks mugs in a cafe in North Andover, Mass. Starbucks reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he plans to spend more time developing the coffee chain’s rewards program, mobile payments and other digital projects of growing importance.

The announcement comes after Starbucks last week noted a ‘‘seismic’’ shift to online shopping during this past holiday season. Executives blamed the changes for its slower growth in the quarter, saying that fewer people milling about at malls meant fewer opportunities for them to stop in at their local Starbucks.

Still, Schultz has shot down the notion that the migration to online shopping will hurt Starbucks over the long term. He says Starbucks is using its various digital assets to deepen relationships with customers and get them to visit more often.

‘‘I think there are enormous opportunities to take advantage of this,’’ Schultz said in a call with analysts Wednesday to discuss various management changes that would free him up to focus on innovation.

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