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Starbucks announces changes to senior leadership structure

The Seattle-based coffee chain has announced it will discontinue the role of Chief Operating Officer following the departure of incumbent John Culver in October, shifting many of its responsibilities to a new Head of Strategy and Transformation position

Culver’s departure marks the Seattle coffee chain’s third major executive departure this year | Photo credit: Starbucks


John Culver will step down from the role of Chief Operating Officer at Starbucks at the start of October, with the Seattle-based coffee chain axing the COO position as part of a wider leadership overhaul. 

Culver has worked for Starbucks for 20 years, serving as Chief Operating Officer and President of the company’s North American business since June 2021. Previously he oversaw Starbucks’ international, channel development and global coffee, tea and cocoa divisions.  

Although Culver will remain at Starbucks in an advisory capacity until the end of the year, day-to-day operations will now be overseen by the yet-to-be-announced CEO, while strategy functions, including global supply chain and technology divisions, will fall under the remit of Frank Britt. 

Britt, who joined Starbucks in April 2022, has been given the expanded role of EVP Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer. 

Howard Schultz, who will remain interim CEO until the start of 2023, thanked Culver for his service and wrote to employees regarding broader leadership changes.  

Schultz confirmed that Sara Kelly has been promoted to EVP Chief Partner Officer, AJ Jones II to EVP Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer, and Liz Muller as a consultant to the Global Growth and Concepts division. Muller previously led the design of the Starbucks’ Roasteries and Reserve stores. 

Culver’s departure follows the retirement of former CEO Kevin Johnson in April and the appointment of Sara Trilling as Executive Vice President and President of Starbucks North America in June.

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