One of the country’s best-known CEOs, Howard Schultz, will give up that role effective April 3, 2017. This will mark the end of Schultz’ second stint in a position where he oversaw one of the industry’s foremost examples of global retail growth. President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson will replace Schultz as CEO.
Schultz previously served as the company’s chief executive from 1987 to 2000 before going on hiatus, but he returned in 2008 after firing then-CEO James Donald. During Schultz’s second run as CEO, Starbucks increased its market value from $15 billion to $84 billion and its global footprint expanded from 16,000 locations to 25,000 in 75 countries.
Schultz is often regarded as one of the nation’s most politically outspoken and high-profile executives, with Fortune magazine naming him “2011 Businessperson of the Year.” In recent years, he has taken very public and progressive stands on issues such as gun control, gay rights and student debt.
He will continue in his role as Chairman of the Board, where he will focus on directing social initiatives and various innovation projects for the company’s higher end coffee shops, including the design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries and the expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format.
“I’m not leaving the company and I’m here every day,” said Schultz in a conference call.
Schultz started at Starbucks in 1982 as its Director of Operations and Marketing, before assuming the CEO post five years later.
Notably, most of his successor’s career has been spent in the technology industry, meaning a retail outsider will be taking the day-to-day reins of the coffee colossus. Johnson served as CEO of Juniper Networks for five years prior to joining Starbucks in 2015.
Since becoming COO, Johnson has led the company’s global operating businesses as well as the core support functions of Starbucks supply chain, marketing, human resources, technology, and mobile and digital platforms. Johnson has been a Starbucks board member since 2009, and will continue to serve as a member of the Board.