Starbucks restructures leadership team as it plots ways to carry on scaling

Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and chief operating officer, is shown with Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive officer in a Starbucks store at the corporate headquarters in Seattle. Photographed on Thursday, December 1, 2016. 

(photo by Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

Starbucks Corporation yesterday unveiled a new corporate leadership structure aimed at positioning it for a new wave of global growth.  

From April next year, chairman and CEO Howard Schultz will become executive chairman, paving the way for current COO Kevin Johnson to take over his duties.

The move will see Schultz’s focus shift to the innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, the expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company’s social impact initiatives. In this new role Schultz will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Going forward, Starbucks plans to open at least 20 Roasteries around the world, six by the end of calendar 2019 alone. At the same time, elements of the Roastery are forming the basis of the 1,000 or more Starbucks Reserve stores it will be launching in the years ahead.

“Starbucks consistently outperforms the retail industry because our stores, our offerings and the experiences our partners create make us a destination,” said Schultz. “The best evidence of the success of the core strategy driving our business is that we continue to deliver quarter after quarter of record, industry leading revenue, comp sales and profit growth, and that the newest classes of Starbucks stores continue to deliver record-breaking revenues, AUVs and ROI both in the US and around the world,” said Schultz.

He added that Johnson has been his partner in running “every facet” of Starbucks’ business over the last two years. “This move ideally positions Starbucks to continue profitably growing our core business around the world into the future,” he added.

Up to now Johnson has been leading the company’s global operating businesses across all geographies as well as the core support functions of Starbucks’ supply chain, marketing, human resources, technology, and mobile and digital platforms. He has been a Starbucks board member since 2009, and will continue to serve as a member of the Board.

“It is an honour for me to serve the more than 300,000 partners who proudly wear the green apron and I consider it a privilege to work side-by-side with Howard, our world-class board of directors, and a very talented leadership team,” said Johnson. “Together, we will reaffirm our leadership in all things coffee, enhance the partner experience and exceed the expectations of our customers and shareholders. We believe in using our scale for good and having positive social impact in the communities we serve around the world.”

Johnson’s career spans 33 years in the technology industry, which included a 16-year career at Microsoft and a five-year tour as CEO of Juniper Networks. At Microsoft, he led worldwide sales and marketing and became the president of the Platforms Division. In 2008, he was appointed to the National Security Telecommunication Advisory Committee where he served US presidents George Bush and Barack Obama. He joined the Starbucks board in 2009 and the management team in 2015.

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