Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks Corp., is retiring after a 13-year tenure with the company. He will transition from his current role on April 4 and will be succeeded by Howard Schultz, founder and former CEO, who is returning to Starbucks on an interim basis.
Johnson joined the Starbucks leadership team in 2015 as president and chief operating officer. In 2017 he succeeded Schultz as president and CEO. During his tenure he established Starbucks’ “People Positive, Planet Positive and Profit Positive” framework. He also expanded the company’s reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestle, which now operates in nearly 80 markets. He is credited with building out the company’s digital capabilities and expanding its footprint in China, its second-largest market.
“A year ago, I signaled to the board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks,” Johnson says. “I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company.”
Schultz previously was CEO from 1986 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2017. He will volunteer his time as interim CEO and will receive $1 of compensation, according to the company.
“When you love something, you have a deep sense of responsibility to help when called,” Schultz says. “Although I did not plan to return to Starbucks, I know the company must transform once again to meet a new and exciting future.”
The CEO transition comes amid growing efforts among Starbucks employees to unionize. Workers at 140 stores across 27 states have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, according to the union Starbucks Workers United.