Laxman Narasimhan has officially begun his tenure as CEO of Starbucks following a five-month immersion during which he worked with employees in 30 stores, manufacturing plants and support centers around the world, earning his barista certification along the way. Narasimhan replaces former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who had been acting as Interim CEO since April 2022.
Narasimhan is taking on the CEO role in time to helm the Starbucks Annual Shareholder Meeting on March 23. He brings nearly 30 years of experience leading and advising global consumer brands, most recently as CEO of Reckitt. He previously held leadership roles at PepsiCo and was a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on consumer, retail and technology practices in the U.S., Asia and India and led the firm’s thinking on retail.
“I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks CEO, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world,” said Narasimhan in a statement. “As a human connection business, we have limitless possibilities to deliver for our partners, our customers, our investors and our communities through every cup and every connection.”
Narasimhan will lead a prospering company: its financial results for Q1 2023, which ended Jan. 1, 2023, showed consolidated net revenues up 8% to a record $8.7 billion, with global comp store sales up 5% and U.S. comp sales up 10%. The retailer opened 459 net new stores during the quarter, bringing the worldwide total to 36,170 locations.
However, like many retailers, Starbucks has been combatting unionization efforts at its stores, using tactics that have generated approximately 24 complaints to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Workers at more than 100 Starbucks stores reportedly planned to strike on Nov. 17, 2022, the retailer’s annual Red Cup Day.