Howard Schultz stepping down as interim CEO of Starbucks

Mar 20, 2023, 9:25 AM | Updated: 9:33 am

stepping down...

FILE - Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on March 22, 2017, in Seattle. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Tuesday, March 7, 2023, that Schultz has agreed to testify before the committee that is examining the company’s actions on March 29, amid an ongoing unionization campaign. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Effective immediately, Starbucks Interim CEO Howard Schultz announced to employees that he is stepping down after less than a year of returning to the company.

Schultz has been the interim CEO of Starbucks since taking over from Kevin Johnson, who resigned in March. Schultz has been the highest-ranking executive twice in the past, once from 1986 until 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017.

Labor judge: Starbucks violated worker rights in union fight

“Starbucks truly has been my life‘s work – but more than that, it’s always been about the lives of the millions of partners over the years who have proudly worn the green apron and it’s about the hundreds of thousands more who will join Starbucks in the years to come,” Schultz said in a letter to employees. “It’s about every customer who comes through our doors. It’s about the communities our stores call home.”

Schultz will remain on the company’s board.

The new CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, was named last fall in anticipation of Schultz’s departure. The 55-year-old Indian American businessman has previously been the CEO of consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser and the CCO of PepsiCo.

Now, he’s taking over nearly two weeks earlier than expected.

Narasimhan has assumed the role of CEO of Starbucks effective Monday, and he will lead Starbucks Annual Shareholder Meeting Thursday.

The news of Schultz’s departure comes amidst a tumultuous time for the company, with a federal judge ruling that the company is infringing on workers’ rights and has violated labor laws “hundreds of times.”

Despite stepping down earlier than expected, Schultz is still expected to testify on March 29 before a Senate panel about the company’s alleged union-busting activity.

The union representing Starbucks Baristas released a statement about the announcement, saying that they hoped that Narasimhan would be more receptive to negotiating with them.

“Over 7,500 workers have been actively organizing to return to Starbucks’ mission and values. Our movement stands for racial justice, inclusivity, and sustainability. We are hopeful that Laxman Narasimhan will chart a new path with the union and work with us to make Starbucks the company we know it can be. We look forward to Howard Schultz testifying before the Senate HELP committee on March 29th and being forced to answer for his actions,” said Michelle Eisen, Buffalo barista and organizer at the first unionized store.

The company posted record sales in its most recent quarter, which ended Jan. 1.

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