US – American multinational coffee chain, Starbucks has appointed the outgoing head of Reckitt Benckiser, Laxman Narasimhan as its next chief executive officer and a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors, effective October 1, 2022.
Narasimhan will now be tasked with executing a “reinvention” strategy designed by Howard Schultz since he returned in April to take charge of the coffee chain for the third time.
He will work closely with Howard Schultz, interim CEO, before assuming the CEO role and joining the Board on April 1, 2023.
Schultz will remain in the role of interim CEO during this transition period of immersing Narasimhan into the multinational coffee chain’s operations and manufacturers.
Following this, he will continue as a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors and will remain closely involved with the company’s reinvention and act as an ongoing advisor to Narasimhan, Starbucks noted.
Narasimhan brings nearly 30 years of experience leading and advising global consumer-facing brands, to the company that has 33,833 stores in 80 countries.
Known for his considerable operational expertise, Starbucks said Narasimhan has a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands as well as building on companies’ histories, where he has succeeded in rallying talent to deliver on future ambitions by driving consumer-centric and digital innovations.
Most recently, he served as chief executive officer of Reckitt, an FTSE-12 listed multinational consumer health, hygiene, and nutrition company, where he led the company through a major strategic transformation and a return to sustainable growth.
During the announcement of his departure by the UK consumer goods group behind Durex condoms and Dettol and Lysol cleaning products, its shares hares fell more than 5 percent.
After three years running Reckitt, his turnround plan “seems to be working”, Bernstein analysts said, “but it’s still too early to take the credit for a job well done”.
Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair stated; “Laxman is an inspiring leader. His deep, hands-on experience driving strategic transformations at global consumer-facing businesses makes him the ideal choice to accelerate Starbucks’ growth and capture the opportunities ahead of us.
His understanding of our culture and values, coupled with his expertise as a brand builder, innovation champion, and operational leader will be true differentiators as we position Starbucks for the next 50 years, generating value for all our stakeholders. On behalf of the entire Board, I am thrilled to welcome Laxman as Starbucks’ next CEO,”
As CEO, Narasimhan will have to tackle several challenges such as the unionization push, in which more than 200 stores in the US have voted to organize under Workers United which has resulted in negative headlines and legal battles.
Also, the prevailing Inflation hasn’t hurt sales yet but has pushed menu prices higher in its chains along with China, its second-largest market, which is struggling to bounce back from the pandemic, hampered by the country’s zero COVID-19 policy.
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