Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeBusinessStarbucks C.E.O. Retires, and Howard Schultz Steps In as Interim

Starbucks C.E.O. Retires, and Howard Schultz Steps In as Interim

In an abrupt move, Starbucks said Wednesday that Kevin Johnson, its chief executive since 2017, was retiring after 13 years with the company.

Howard Schultz, who joined Starbucks in the early 1980s and built it into a global giant, will step in as interim chief executive when Mr. Johnson, 61, leaves his job on April 4, the company said. Mr. Schultz, 68, had been chief executive for two previous stints, most recently from 2008 to 2017, when Mr. Johnson took over and Mr. Schultz became executive chairman. Starbucks said it had hired a search firm and expected to pick a new leader by fall. Mr. Schultz will also rejoin the company’s board of directors.

The announcement comes ahead of Starbucks’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, during which Mr. Johnson and Mr. Schultz will speak. Mr. Johnson said that he had first discussed his plans with the company’s board of directors last year.

“A year ago, I signaled to the board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks,” Mr. Johnson said in a company statement. Shares of Starbucks rose more than 6 percent in premarket trading.

Starbucks on Tuesday was hit with a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board, which accused the chain of illegally penalizing two Arizona workers involved in the union drive at a Phoenix location, the latest in the company’s labor disputes. Workers at two Buffalo-area stores voted to unionize in December, and a third location in Mesa, Ariz., voted to unionize last month. Since the first Buffalo vote, workers at more than 100 Starbucks locations across the country have filed for union elections, as union efforts sweep the company.

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