Starbucks president & CEO Kevin Johnson to retire in April

Starbucks Corporation announced that Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer (CEO), intends to retire after a 13-year tenure at the company, including the last five years as CEO. Johnson will transition from his current role on 4 April 2022 and will continue to serve as a Starbucks partner (employee) and special consultant to the company and board of directors through September. The Starbucks board of directors anticipates selecting a new leader by the Fall.

Until a permanent successor is named, Mellody Hobson, independent board of directors’ chair said that founder and former president and CEO, Howard Schultz, has been appointed as interim CEO, effective 4 April 2022. Schultz will also rejoin the Seattle, Washington-based company’s board of directors.

“On behalf of the entire board, I want to express our sincerest thanks to Kevin for his leadership of Starbucks. Kevin and the entire executive team stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic and navigated one of the most difficult periods in modern history. The economic certainty provided to partners during the early months of the Covid shut down, as well as during mandatory quarantines, underscores our core values and will be an enduring legacy for the company. During Kevin’s tenure, Starbucks scaled an industry leading digital offering spanning nearly 45 million Starbucks Rewards members in the United States and China,” said Hobson, prior during the annual shareholders meeting that was held virtually today (16 March).

Johnson, who has served on Starbucks’ board since 2009, joined the Starbucks leadership team in 2015 as president and chief operating officer. In 2017, he was named president and CEO, succeeding Schultz.

Johnson established the People Positive, Planet Positive and Profit Positive framework that seeks to create a better world for Starbucks partners, farmers, customers, and the communities it serves. He expanded the company’s reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestlé, which now operates in nearly 80 markets, and established and executed the Growth at Scale agenda that significantly increased shareholder value.

“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. As I make this transition, we are very fortunate to have a founder who can step in on an interim basis, giving the board time to further explore potential candidates and make the right long-term succession decision for the company,” said Kevin Johnson. “I have enjoyed every minute of the job and am proud of what we have achieved together. It has been an honor to serve the 400,000 Starbucks green apron partners around the world and I want to thank them for their service, resilience and optimism.”

The board of directors has formed a working committee to oversee the CEO search process. In addition to the day-to-day management of the company, Schultz will participate in the search process to find the next CEO. Hobson noted that Schultz is volunteering his time as interim CEO to Starbucks and will receive USD $1 of compensation.

“For 50 years, Starbucks has been relentlessly focused on exceeding the expectations of our people and our customers, while delivering best-in-class financial performance,” said Hobson. “As the company navigates the aftermath of the pandemic and socio-economic forces impacting the lives of all our stakeholders, Howard will reinforce the company’s culture, underscoring the organisation’s commitment to innovating and executing on our core purpose and reason for being: to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

“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 a responsible community member and corporate citizen. With the backdrop of Covid recovery and global unrest, its critical we set the table for a courageous reimagining and reinvention of the future Starbucks experience for our partners and customers,” commented Schultz.

During the virtual shareholders meeting, Starbucks executives announced:
• A deepened commitment to sustainability through new partnerships and technologies and global reusability efforts such as joining the US Dairy Net Zero initiative and partnering with the Nature Conservancy with a goal to make sustainable dairy initiatives more accessible and affordable for global dairy farmers.
• Further expansion of its Greener Stores Network (there are currently 300+ greener stores in the US and Canada, one in Tokyo, Japan and one in Shanghai, China).
• The rollout of the new Clover VerticaTM brewer and continued rollout of Mastrena II espresso machine.

Executives also shared that the Starbucks Foundation launched a new Global Community Impact Grants portfolio committing $30 million by 2030 to drive locally relevant impact in the communities where Starbucks operates as well as an expanded goal to positively impact one million women and girls at origin by 2030, building on insights and impact to date and recognising the potential to unlock even more opportunities in origin communities.

Starbucks also affirmed plans to expand to 55,000 stores in over 100 markets by 2030.

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