Starbucks Corporation has announced that Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer, intends to retire after a 13-year tenure at the company, including the last five years as CEO. Johnson will transition from his current role on April 4, 2022, and will continue to serve as a Starbucks partner (employee) and special consultant to the company and Starbuck’s Board of Directors through September. The Starbucks Board of Directors has been engaged in continuous CEO succession planning, assisted by Russell Reynolds Associates since 2021, and anticipates selecting a new leader by the Fall. To ensure seamless stewardship of the company until a permanent successor is named, the board has appointed Howard Schultz as interim chief executive officer, effective April 4, 2022. Schultz will also rejoin Starbuck’s Board of Directors.
“On behalf of the entire Board, I want to express our sincerest thanks to Kevin for his leadership of Starbucks. Kevin and the entire executive team stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic and navigated one of the most difficult periods in modern history. The economic certainty provided to partners during the early months of the COVID shut down, as well as during mandatory quarantines, underscores our core values and will be an enduring legacy for the company. During Kevin’s tenure, Starbucks scaled an industry leading digital offering spanning nearly 45 million Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. and China,” says Independent Starbucks Board of Directors Chair Mellody Hobson.
Johnson, who has served on the Starbucks Board of Directors since 2009, joined the company’s leadership team in 2015 as president and chief operating officer. In 2017, he was named president and chief executive officer, succeeding founder Schultz.
Building on the rich heritage of the company, Johnson established the People Positive, Planet Positive and Profit Positive framework that seeks to create a better world for Starbucks partners, farmers, customers and the communities it serves. He expanded the company’s reach through the Global Coffee Alliance with Nestlé, which now operates in nearly 80 markets, and established and executed the Growth at Scale agenda that significantly increased shareholder value.
“A year ago, I signaled to the Board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks,” says Johnson. “I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company. As I make this transition, we are 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. I have enjoyed every minute of the job and am proud of what we have achieved together. It has been an honor to serve the 400,000 Starbucks green apron partners around the world and I want to thank them for their service, resilience and optimism.”
The Starbucks Board of Directors has formed a working committee to oversee the CEO search process, which is ongoing and yielding a strong slate of potential candidates.