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Starbucks Triggers Leadership Succession

Kevin Johnson will retire from his post as Starbucks president and CEO effective April 4, 2022. Former Starbucks CEO and founder Howard Schultz will serve as CEO until the Seattle-based coffee giant finds a replacement. Starbucks began working on a CEO succession plan in 2021 and anticipates having a new CEO in place by the fall of 2022, per a company release.

“A year ago, I signaled to the Board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks. I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company,” says Johnson, who has spent the past 13 years with Starbucks and will remain as an employee and a special consultant to the company. Johnson, who has served on the Starbucks board of directors since 2009, joined the company’s leadership team in 2015 as president and chief operating officer. In 2017, Johnson was named president and chief executive officer, succeeding Schultz.

During Johnson’s time as CEO, the company continued to evolve on several key fronts. Specifically, the chain continued to roll out its Starbucks Reserve Roastery units, which provide unique, high-end coffee experiences to consumers. And it continued the scaling of Starbucks’ mobile app. “During Kevin’s tenure, Starbucks scaled an industry-leading digital offering spanning nearly 45 million Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. and China,” says Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Director's chair in a statement.

In addition to serving as Starbucks’ CEO, Schultz has rejoined the company’s board of directors. As interim CEO, Schultz will focus on setting an innovation framework, while also coaching and onboarding the next Starbucks CEO. “Our success is not an entitlement. We must continue to earn the trust of our people and our customers every day by how we deliver the Starbucks Experience, how we treat each other and how we act as responsible community members and corporate citizens. With the backdrop of COVID recovery and global unrest, it's critical we set the table for a courageous reimagining and reinvention of the future Starbucks experience for our partners and customers,” says Schultz.