I-Buycott & Starbucks Coffee France
Lead NCPFrance
Supporting NCP(s)Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, United States
DescriptionSpecific instance submitted by I-Buycott, an NGO, concerning an alleged non-observance of the OECD Guidelines by Starbucks Coffee France, a food service company.
Theme(s)Disclosure, Consumer interests, Taxation
Date22 Nov 2019
Host country(ies)France
Industry sectorAccommodation and food service

Read the initial assessment issued by the French NCP on 22 July 2020: English & French

Read the final statement issued by the French NCP on 7 June 2021: English & French

On 29 November 2019, the French NGO I-buycott submitted a specific instance to the French NCP, alleging that Starbucks Coffee France had not observed the Disclosure (Chapter III), Consumer interests (Chapter VIII) and Taxation provisions (Chapter XI) of the OECD Guidelines. Issues concerned allegations of insufficient and unreliable financial, tax and non-financial information disclosure by Starbucks Coffee France regarding its operations, organisation, and taxation in France and the licencee agreement between Starbucks Coffee Group and the Mexican group Alsea. It also concerned interests of consumers in France regarding transparency on the taxation of Starbucks's activities in France and Starbucks's tax payments in France. Moreover, the submitter raised the allegation that the Company violates the OECD Guidelines recommendations on transfer priceing and fair competition in France. The company denied all of the allegations made by I-buycott and accepted the NCP’s good offices.

On 30 March 2020, the submitter reformulated its submission to reflect information concerning Starbucks Coffee’s organisation in France, namely the sale of its French subsidiary (“Starbucks Coffee France”) to the Mexican company Alsea Group in January 2019 and the existence of a licence agreement between Alsea and Starbucks Coffee Group.

On 14 May 2020, the French NCP confirmed its decision to accept the case as reformulated. The French NCP took the lead on the case with the Mexico, Spain, UK, US, and Netherlands NCPs as support. After having consulted each party and the five supporting NCPs, the French NCP published its initial assessment statement on 22 July 2020.

The NCP delivered its good offices phase between June 2020 and February 2021. Starbucks Coffee France cooperated with the good offices but preferred not to dialogue directly with the submitter. The NCP notes failures to comply with the Guideline’s recommendations on disclosure. The NCP considers that the Company does not provide consumers with “accurate, verifiable and clear information that is sufficient to enable consumers to make an informed decision” (…). Based on a tax certification provided by the French tax authorities, the NCP concluded that the Company did observe Chapter XI of the Guidelines by complying ‘with the letter and spirit of France’s tax laws and regulations and clarified that this includes the standards established by the OECD concerning transfer pricing, as well as BEPS.

On 1 June 2021, the NCP issued a final statement, concluding the process without agreement. The NCP issued recommendations:

  • Improve disclosure about financial items, group’s structure and governance, and related party transactions.
  • Disclose tax information covered by Chapter XI, suggesting that this include ‘a commitment to take into account the OECD’s recommendations and benchmarks on international taxation, for example in the form of a code of good conduct’
  • Starbucks Coffee France continue to "comply with both the letter and spirit of tax laws and regulations of" France “by making timely payment of their tax liabilities”

A follow-up is planned by the end of 2021.