Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson will step down on April 4 after five years at the helm of the company, according to a statement by the company. Howard Schultz, who led the company for decades before Johnson, will serve as interim CEO and rejoin the board of directors while the company searches for a new CEO.
The Board of Directors believes Schultz is uniquely qualified to serve as interim CEO until a new leader is identified, as the company's founder and architect of its culture. In addition to day-to-day management of the company, Schultz will assist in the search for and onboarding of the next CEO.
Schultz grew Starbucks into one of the world's most well-known corporations. From 1987 to 2018, he oversaw the expansion of Starbucks from 11 stores with 100 partners to over 28,000 stores in 77 countries.
Johnson joined the board of directors of Starbucks in 2009 and was named president and chief operating officer in 2015. In 2017, he took over as CEO, succeeding Schultz.
Building on the company's rich history, Johnson broadened the company's reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestlé, which now operates in nearly 80 markets, and established and carried out the Growth at Scale agenda, which significantly increased shareholder value.
“I have enjoyed every minute of the job and am proud of what we have achieved together. It has been an honour to serve the 400,000 Starbucks green apron partners around the world and I want to thank them for their service, resilience and optimism.”
According to the company, the Starbucks board of directors hired executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates last year to assist in the search for a replacement for Johnson.