Starbucks says Schultz to step down as CEO, become chairman

On April 3, Starbucks sbux will be handed off to President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson, who first joined Starbucks' management team back in early 2015 after Troy Alstead chose to take a sabbatical after 23 years with the company. Kevin Johnson, who was named president and chief operating officer past year, will be chief executive as of April 3.

"Howard Schultz ... will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company's social impact initiatives", the company said.

He will remain chairman of the Board.

Schultz previously left the company in 2000, after growing it from a local coffee chain in Seattle into an $80 billion global powerhouse.

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Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down, the company announced on Thursday. "The best evidence of the success of the core strategy driving our business is that we continue to deliver quarter after quarter of record, industry leading revenue, comp sales and profit growth, and that the newest classes of Starbucks stores continue to deliver record-breaking revenues, AUV's and ROI both in the USA and around the world", said Schultz. The coffee executive had been vocally political during the 2016 election season, telling CNN's Poppy Harlow, "I think it's obvious that Hillary Clinton needs to be our next president" in September.

Starbucks' stock was trading as low as $3.92 a share in November 2008, and is now at around $58 a share.

In Schultz's place, Reuters reported, will be Kevin Johnson, now the chief operating officer of Starbucks.

Even though Schultz hadn't telegraphed the move, the CEO said he had been planning the move for at least a year.

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"But Kevin and the team are in charge", Schultz said.

On a conference after the announcement, analysts pressed the company on timing and whether, with Schultz stepping aside, senior management still had the "merchant" gene.

In a note issued before Starbucks announced the change, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Palmer said he believed the company can regain its domestic sales momentum by focusing on expanding its rewards program and the changes it is making to its food menu.

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