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Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to step down with Howard Schultz returning as interim leader

Johnson, who has been President and CEO since 2017, will step down on 4 April 2022 with former CEO Howard Schultz taking over the role on an interim basis until new leadership is named

Kevin Johnson serves coffee to military members during the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders in 2019 | Photo credit: Starbucks 



Starbucks has announced that its President and CEO, Kevin Johnson, will step down on 4 April 2022. Johnson, who has been in the role since 2017 and worked at Starbucks for 13 years will retire, the Seattle-based coffee chain said.
 
Johnson has served on the Starbucks Board of Directors since 2009 and joined the Starbucks leadership team in 2015 as President and COO. In 2017, Johnson was named President and CEO, succeeding the brand’s founder and former CEO, Howard Schultz. 
 
In a press statement, Starbucks credited Johnson with successfully navigating the business through the Covid-19 crisis, establishing the People Positive, Planet Positive and Profit Positive framework, and expanding the company’s reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestlé to more than 80 markets.
 
“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 is able to 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.
 
Starbucks said its Board of Directors had been engaged in continuous CEO succession planning, assisted by Russell Reynolds Associates, since 2021 and that its anticipates a new leader will be selected by autumn 2022.
 
“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,” said Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair. 
 
Starbucks says Schultz’s role as interim CEO will focus on setting an innovation framework while coaching and onboarding the next permanent CEO of the company. According to Starbucks, Schultz will receive a symbolic compensation of $1 for the role.
 
“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,” commented Schultz. 
 
Schultz is credited with building Starbucks into the international powerhouse known today. Under his leadership from 1987 to 2018, Starbucks grew from 11 stores with 100 partners to more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries. 
 
The Seattle-based coffee chain currently operates more than 34,000 stores in 80 countries worldwide.

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