Starbucks CEO to step down to focus on innovation, social impact activities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 6:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 6:30am

Starbucks Corp.’s Howard Schultz, who built the coffee empire and served two separate stints as chief executive officer, will step down next year, handing the reins to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson.

Johnson, a former technology executive who joined Starbucks’ board seven years ago, will take the CEO job on April 3, the Seattle-based company said in a statement on Thursday.

“Howard Schultz...will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company’s social impact initiatives,” the company said.

Schultz, currently chairman and CEO, will become executive chairman on that date to focus on innovation and social impact activities, among other things.

Schultz, 63, is credited with turning around the coffee chain’s fortunes since returning as its CEO in 2008. He has overseen the expansion of the company’s popular loyalty programme and mobile app and worked to expand food and beverage offerings.

Starbucks to double its China stores in five years as Chinese middle class adopts coffee culture

The company’s sales have grown impressively in the US, although they’ve slowed more recently.

During an interview with CNN in September, Schultz publicly endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and did not rule out running for office at some point.

Shares of Starbucks slid 3.6 per cent to $56.44 in after-hours trading.

Johnson, 56, will take charge of the company’s global business and operations. He joined the Starbucks board in 2009 and has spent years at technology companies including 16 years with Microsoft and five as Juniper Networks CEO.