Howard Schultz returns to Starbucks as Interim CEO following departure of Kevin Johnson 

USA — Long-serving chief executive officer of Starbucks Howard Schultz has returned to succeed Kevin Johnson who is retiring after a 13-year tenure with the company.  

Mr. Schultz who previously was CEO from 1986 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2017 will take over from Johnson on April 4 and will serve on an interim basis until the company finds a suitable candidate.  

He will transition from his current role on April 4 and will be succeeded by Howard Schultz, founder and former CEO, who is returning to Starbucks on an interim basis. 

He will volunteer his time as interim CEO and will receive US$1 of compensation, according to the company. 

In a statement, Johnson, 61, indicated his departure was planned, noting he had signaled to the Starbucks board a year ago that he would consider retiring as the pandemic came to an end. 

 During his tenure, he established Starbucks’ “People Positive, Planet Positive and Profit Positive” framework.  

He also expanded the company’s reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestle, which now operates in nearly 80 markets.  

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Johnson is also credited with building out the company’s digital capabilities and expanding its footprint in China, its second-largest market. 

The Starbucks Board of Directors thanked Johnson for his leadership, citing the challenges brought on by the pandemic, which it called “one of the most difficult periods in modern history.” 

After an initial plunge in the very early days of the pandemic, Starbucks shares began a steady recovery in mid-2020 and soared to a record high last summer.  

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Even as restaurants struggled, coffee sales were strong, in part thanks to Starbucks’ drive-throughs. By spring of 2021, the company said U.S. sales had made a “full recovery.” 

Mr. Schultz noted that he had not planned to come back but expressed confidence that “the company must transform once again to meet a new and exciting future.” 

“When you love something, you have a deep sense of responsibility to help when called,” the Starbucks CEO said.  

The CEO transition comes amid growing efforts among Starbucks employees to unionize. Workers at 140 stores across 27 states have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, according to the union Starbucks Workers United. 

Earlier, Starbucks joint venture in India Tata Starbucks announced that it is planning to open eight airport stores in six cities to expand its network in the country.  

The cities are Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Goa, Guwahati, Jaipur and Lucknow, said a statement from Tata Starbucks. 

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