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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz steps into new role as company shifts direction

Starbucks is changing it's leadership organization to grow the company in a new way, promoting higher-end coffee locations similar to the Roastery in Seattle. (Starbucks)

Seattle’s coffee giant is changing its recipe – corporately speaking.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that he will be stepping away from certain duties at the company to focus his attention on growing its higher-end businesses. Such enterprises include Starbucks’ special reserve stores, a gourmet Italian bakery chain and its roasteries.

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“Going forward, I will intensify my focus on our overall long-term strategy and innovation,” Schultz said Monday. “When the roastery opened in Seattle, I said it was a metaphor for our company in showcasing elevated levels of coffee innovation, design creativity and customer experience. … With its stunning success, we will now accelerate and globalize the roastery experience, building more roasteries in iconic cities, and threading the roastery experience into hundreds of coffee-forward Reserve stores around the world, which also will integrate the spectacular culinary experience of our new Italian food partner, Princi.”

The roasteries are a good example of Schultz’s efforts to up Starbucks’ game into a more boutique field. The company began with a pilot location on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The roasteries, which provide select coffees that are roasted and prepared on site in an artisan setting, are  considered to be the next generation of Starbucks. They have spread to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. The company recently announced it’s taking the concept internationally, to Shanghai, in 2017.

Customers and employees alike likely won’t notice much of a change — at least short-term. But Schultz said it is part of the company’s long-term growth.

While Schultz puts his energy to that side of the company, Kevin Johnson will be COO and president. Current COO John Culver will take on the role of group president of Starbucks Global Retail.

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