Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is stepping down; Howard Schultz returns to the temporary role

Starbucks said Wednesday that Mr. Johnson, who Led company based in Seattle For the past five years, he will be stepping down as CEO and Director of the Board of Directors effective April 4. He will continue in his advisory role to the company and its board of directors until September.

Mr. Schultz who preceded Mr. Johnson and Headed a lot of chain expansionStarbucks, will serve as interim CEO, Starbucks said.

Mr Johnson thanked Starbucks employees in a letter planned to send out on Wednesday, and said the company was lucky to have Mr. Schultz step in as it seeks a new long-term CEO.

Starbucks shares rose 5% to $87 in premarket trading Wednesday morning.

Starbucks CEO Melody Hobson said Johnson first indicated to company executives about a year ago that he was considering retirement, and he hoped to do so when the pandemic is over. Hobson said his decision to leave was his, not the result of any board or outside push.

“It was intentional,” Hobson said in an interview on Tuesday. “This is not rash in any way.”

Howard Schultz returns for his third assignment at the helm of Starbucks.


Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press

The company said the Starbucks board appointed executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates last year to help plan Johnson’s potential departure. Starbucks said it hopes to pick a new CEO by the fall. Ms Hobson said the company has drawn up a list of potential candidates, who are looking for executives with international and general experience in the company.

Mr. Johnson, 61, has since left Starbucks Seven years in the world’s largest coffee chainHe served as Chief Operating Officer before taking over as Chief Executive Officer in April 2017. Mr. Johnson was previously Chief Technology Officer at

Microsoft corp.

And the

Juniper Networks company ,

She joined the Starbucks board of directors in 2009. Starbucks valued Mr. Johnson’s technology expertise, and his contribution to the chain’s digital ordering systems has enhanced the company’s value, Ms. Hobson said.

Starbucks was one of the first American restaurant chains To feel the impact of the epidemic In its market in China in early 2020. As cafes closed during Covid-19 closures, and Starbucks store sales itself. Fallen for the first time in over a decade.

In June 2020, the company accelerated its plans to permanently close hundreds of US stores to clear the way for more Navigation sites and walking by car. Starbucks sales recovered from the pandemic last year. The company reported sales of $29.1 billion in its last fiscal year, up from $22.4 billion in 2017 after Mr. Johnson took over.

Starbucks shares are down 24% in the past 12 months, while the Standard & Poor’s index of restaurant stocks is down 5% over the same period. Wall Street analysts said rising wages, training, supply and other costs Likely to affect Starbucks’ profits in the near term.

Mr Johnson said spending on more wages and benefits would improve the company’s long-term performance.

Starbucks only follows McDonald’s as the largest chain of restaurants by market value. WSJ’s Heather Haddon explains why mobile technology has become a business priority for Starbucks and has earned it a loyal customer base. Photo: Stanislav Kojiko/Zuma Press

Describing himself as a coffee addict who prefers a triple coffee, Mr. Johnson graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and worked at

International Business Machines corp.

Before joining Microsoft.

He was recruited into Starbucks by Mr. Schultz to serve as a first lieutenant in 2015. Within two years, Mr. Schultz had stepped down and Mr. Johnson had become CEO.

Now, Mr. Schultz, 68, is back on his third assignment at the helm of Starbucks. He resigned as Starbucks CEO in 2000, and Back in 2008 Where the company sought to improve its performance. Mr. Schultz who Flirt with running for president of the United States As a freelancer in 2019, he is currently heading up his family foundation and is involved in charitable work.

Hobson said Mr. Schultz was not expected to stay on permanently. She said she expected Mr. Schultz to maintain the company’s culture as it transitions to a new leader and express his views.

“We want the full deal,” said Mrs. Hobson. He described Mr. Schultz as a friend and teacher.

Starbucks said in a filing Wednesday that it will pay Mr. Schultz a base salary and allow him to participate in the company’s employee benefit plans. Starbucks said it will not receive compensation or other benefits.

Starbucks Face the most dangerous campaign of the American unions In its history last year, some workers moved for better wages and conditions. Mr Johnson appealed to the workers to allow the company to maintain a direct relationship with them. More than 130 of the 9,000 US Starbucks coffee shops have petitioned to join unions, and since late 2021, six locations have voted to represent the United Starbucks Workers Union.

Schultz traveled to Buffalo last year to address Starbucks workers in person before the first coffee shops voted on unions. During a speech that lasted about an hour, Mr. Schultz spoke about the chain’s founding and modern operations.

Several Starbucks investors, who together account for more than $1 billion in Starbucks stock, asked the company on Tuesday to cease any anti-union contacts with employees, adopt a policy of neutrality toward workers seeking to organize and negotiate with good-faith union coffee shops. The investors, led by Trillium Asset Management, previously wrote to Starbucks in December to express their concerns about the company’s initial response to the union push. Trillium says it is focusing its investment on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters.

Starbucks had no immediate response to the new message.

Starbucks sales have recovered from the pandemic, but costs may affect profits in the near term.


Richard B. Levine / Zuma Press

Starbucks said last year it would increase barista wages. The wage increase now underway, along with two previously announced increases, is set to account for an additional $1 billion in employee spending. The company’s stock fell last October after Mr Johnson told investors that the latest pay increase would go down Low profit margins this year.

Starbucks Shareholders Rejected offer of executive compensation for the coffee company Last year, proxy consulting firms recommended shareholders vote against pay decisions. The compensation proposal included a one-time bonus to Johnson of $1.86 million.

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Starbucks’ board of directors in late 2019 agreed to give Johnson a three-year retention bonus of up to $50 million if he helps boost the company’s stock to set goals and remains at Starbucks through the end of fiscal year 2022. Starbucks said the performance award will be decided in September next, and currently expects not to pay it to Mr Johnson.

Starbucks said in a statement before its annual meeting on Wednesday that it has reached out to shareholders after an advisory vote on pay, and will not offer long-term performance awards in cash in the future. She added that the company increased the disclosure of its incentive awards.

Mr Johnson has attracted the national attention he has brought Two black men arrested Sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks in 2018, along with growing competition for the chain of lower- and higher-end coffee shops. He focused the company’s operations on its markets in the United States and China, and sold other markets to licensees and make a deal With

Nestle SA

Selling Starbucks products worldwide.

write to Heather Haddon at [email protected]

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