Star­bucks CEO Howard Schultz to step aside

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Howard Schultz, the charis­matic head of Star­bucks, will step aside as CEO next year, turn­ing a ma­jor page in the history of a com­pany he built into an iconic global brand. Hav­ing led the com­pany’s rise from a sleepy Seat­tle chain into the world’s big­gest cof­fee busi­ness, Schultz will stay on as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and chair­man of the board, the cof­fee gi­ant said Thurs­day in a sur­prise an­nounce­ment that sent the share price down af­ter hours.

The change will take ef­fect April 3. Schultz will hand the reins to pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Kevin John­son, a close friend who was tapped as num­ber two at the com­pany in 2015 and has been a Star­bucks board mem­ber since 2009.

The move comes as the firm faces an in­creas­ingly crowded mar­ket for higher-qual­ity re­tail cof­fee shops and seeks to bol­ster foot traf­fic. Schultz will de­vote his time to de­vel­op­ing high­end su­per­premium cof­fee shops around the world known as Star­bucks Re­serve Roas­t­er­ies, the com­pany said in a state­ment. It plans to open 20 to 30 out­lets in the com­ing years. “I will be here full-time,” Schultz told a con­fer­ence call with an­a­lysts. “I am not leav­ing the com­pany, I am here day to day.”

New ini­tia­tive

Schultz, who joined Star­bucks in 1982 as a sales man­ager, is con­sid­ered the driv­ing force be­hind the world­wide suc­cess of the cof­fee chain be­gun in 1971. He briefly left in 1986 fol­low­ing a dis­pute with the then-own­ers to set up his own com­pany, Il Gior­nale, be­fore buy­ing out their shares in 1987 with sup­port from lo­cal small in­vestors.

Star­bucks now op­er­ates more than 25,000 stores in more than 75 coun­tries, with a turnover of around $20 bil­lion in fis­cal year 2015. Schultz, 63, told The Wall Street Jour­nal on Thurs­day that the com­pany’s new ini­tia­tive would help main­tain in-per­son sales as con­sumers in­creas­ingly move to on­line shop­ping rather than vis­it­ing malls, where many Star­bucks out­lets are lo­cated. “I don’t have any time hori­zon that would limit my en­gage­ment in the com­pany,” he said. “This gives me the en­tre­pre­neur­ial free­dom to do what I think I do best.” — AFP

SEAT­TLE: In this Wed­nes­day, March 23, 2016, file photo, Kevin John­son, pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Star­bucks Corp, holds up one of the cof­fee com­pany’s pre­paid Visa debit cards, at the com­pany’s an­nual share­hold­ers meet­ing in Seat­tle. — AP

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