Starbucks' CEO Kevin Johnson Abruptly Retires; Howard Schultz Takes Over on Interim Basis
Howard Schultz, the former longtime CEO of Starbucks, is returning to lead the coffee company on an interim basis. Starbucks announced Wednesday that Kevin Johnson will retire in April after five years as president and CEO, and 13 years total at Starbucks. Johnson succeeded Schultz in 2017. The coffee giant said its board of directors has been "engaged in continuous CEO succession planning" since 2021 and anticipates picking a new leader in the fall.
“A year ago, I signaled to the board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks," Johnson said. "I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company. As I make this transition, we're very fortunate to have a founder who is able to step in on an interim basis, giving the board time to further explore potential candidates and make the right long-term succession decision for the company."
Schultz said he hadn't planned on coming back to Starbucks. He'll be in the position as a volunteer.
"When you love something, you have a deep sense of responsibility to help when called," said Schultz. "I know the company must transform once again to meet a new and exciting future where all of our stakeholders mutually flourish."
Total Retail's Take: Schultz built Starbucks into the worldwide giant that it is. His returning participation as interim CEO could signal he wants to stay more involved in the company — this is the second time he's left Starbucks and returned again to fill a role.
Investors were certainly pleased with his return; ABC News reported Starbucks' shares jumped 6 percent at opening bell Wednesday .