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Originally published Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Starbucks scaling back CD sales, store racks

The company slashed its music and entertainment division this spring, ousting chief of entertainment Ken Lombard and moving day-to-day management of its joint venture Hear Music record label to Concord Music Group.

Seattle Times business reporter

Starbucks will remove rotating CD racks from the floors of 6,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada by September to focus on four CDs it sells near cash registers.

"It's an opportunity to focus on a small number of titles and tell those stories well," said Doug Cavarocchi, a Starbucks spokesman.

It is an incremental move in Starbucks' effort to return to its coffee core. The company slashed its music and entertainment division this spring, ousting chief of entertainment Ken Lombard and moving day-to-day management of its joint venture Hear Music record label to Concord Music Group.

Fewer than 10 Starbucks employees in Seattle and Los Angeles now choose CDs and create compilations to sell in stores. They're also in charge of selecting music that plays overhead.

Rotating CD racks appeared in Starbucks stores in 2005 and carried six to eight titles along with iTunes gift cards and promotional giveaways. The iTunes items will continue to be available elsewhere in stores.

At one point, the company sold more than 4 million CDs a year. Cavarocchi said he does not know how CD sales will be affected by removing so many titles from stores.

Asked whether the racks have been a distraction to customers, Cavarocchi answered that he would "not say that. This gives us an opportunity to really shine a light on four titles and select something we think is special for customers."

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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