Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson will retire on April 4, the company announced Wednesday, and coffee chain founder Howard Schultz will take over as interim CEO.
Johnson signaled to the board a year ago that he could retire when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, he said in a company statement.
Take-out and drive-thru orders
After the pandemic shuttered Starbucks cafes around the world, the company, under Johnson’s watch, said it would start building smaller stores with less seating and more emphasis on take-out and drive-thru orders.
Customers also placed more orders through the Starbucks mobile app, but that led to long lines and overworked employees in some areas.
This burnout of baristas, along with accusations by some workers that they were not sufficiently protected against the deadly virus at work, contributed to a wave of labor organizing in the United States.
On Tuesday, a federal labor commission charged Starbucks with unlawfully retaliating against two employees at a Phoenix, Arizona, coffee shop for attempting to unionize their store.
Johnson has been at Starbucks for 13 years, the last five as CEO.
In a letter to employees on Wednesday, Johnson said he had “great memories of making drinks together, laughing together and sharing stories with each other.”
The board expects to have selected a new leader by the fall, with the help of executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, which it recruited in 2021.
Read more: Nestlé and Starbucks extend their ready-to-drink coffee partnership
News by Reuters, edited by ESM- your source for the latest A-Brands news. Click subscribe to register ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.