Starbucks Tax Row: Protestors Occupy Stores
Anti tax avoidance activists have staged protests at more than 50 Starbucks stores to complain about the coffee chain's tax arrangements.
UK Uncut said it was the most widespread day of action it had ever held, showing the depth of anger at the scale of tax avoidance by some large companies.
Pictures uploaded to its Facebook page showed campaigners holding banners and posters while others staged sit-in protests.
The demonstrations went ahead in cities including London, Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Sheffield and Portsmouth even though the US giant announced changes to its tax payments.
Starbucks said it expects to pay around £10m in UK corporation tax for each of the next two years, following the revelation that it paid just £8.6m in 14 years of trading in Britain and nothing in the last three years.
UK Uncut said it had "transformed" Starbucks stores into refuges, creches and homeless shelters to highlight the tax issues as well as the effect of Government cuts on women.
There was a police presence at many of the protests, with some of the demonstrators told to report to a police station within seven days. There were two arrests in London.
A UK Uncut spokesman said: "It has been an overwhelming success, sending a clear message to the Government as well as to huge corporations."
One store in Vigo Street, central London, was occupied by protesters at noon and then temporarily closed.
Dozens of activists chanted and waved placards and banners outside, shutting off the street to traffic under the gaze of the police.
The store was transformed into a domestic violence refuge as the protest sought to highlight the "disproportionate" effect that the coalition's cuts to the public sector are having on women.
Lisa Stewart, a 30-year-old UK Uncut activist, said: "Women are bearing the brunt of these cuts, and if they (the Government) made tax-dodgers like Starbucks pay that would bring in £25bn a year.
"Think of all the spending cuts that we could cover with that."
Ms Stewart said the reaction from customers inside the store had been positive, adding: "There is lots of anger out there and people realise they are being lied to."
In an open letter to customers on Thursday, Kris Engskov, managing director of Starbucks UK, said the company had begun "a process of enhancing trust with customers and the communities that we have been honoured to serve for the past 14 years".
He said the company injects nearly £300m annually into the UK economy, and will train more than 1,000 apprentices over the next two years.