After four decades spent as CEO and Chairman, Howard Schultz is stepping down from his role as Executive Chairman and member of the Board of Directors for Starbucks Corporation. Shultz will be honored as the Chairman Emeritus, effective June 26th. During his tenure with the company, Starbucks locations shot up from 11 stores to over 28,000 stores that can be found in 77 countries, and he assisted in the 21,000 percent gain in the value of its stock price since its 1992 public offering debut.
“I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for,” Schultz said in a letter to past and present Starbucks partners. “Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”
According to a press release, the company’s growth was a result of Schultz’s decisions to provide uncommon benefits for Starbucks employees, such as comprehensive healthcare, stock ownership, and free college tuition.
After entering Seattle’s iconic Starbucks at Pike Place Market in 1981, Schultz and his wife, Sheri, moved from New York to Seattle, where he took the role of Director of Operations and Marketing. Schultz purchased Starbucks with the help of local investors, and, from there, he brought his vision of coffee house life and its capabilities to America and other locations throughout the world. His unique idea of what the coffee house could be welcomed it as a third place between home and work—a comfortable and welcoming space that offered community and human connection. He transitioned from CEO to Executive Chairman on April 3, 2017, and he focused on the company’s impact on social initiatives, innovation, and global development of the premium Reserve brand, Reserve Roasteries, Reserve stores, and the partnership with renowned artisanal Italian bakery, Princi.
“There are no words to fully express our gratitude to Howard for the extraordinary company he has built. He’s helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling, and always being bold in creating a better future. He’s taught all of us that it’s possible to be a very different kind of public company. That must, and will, continue on my watch,” CEO and member of the Board of Directors Kevin Johnson said.
Schultz will now oversee Milan’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery opening on September 6, with the company’s anticipated entry into Italy, as well as the company’s New York Roaster in late October. Myron E. “Mike” Ullman will be the new Chair of the Board, and Mellody Hobson will serve as Vice Chair of the Board, effective upon Schultz’s retirement.
“Because of your creativity, your hard work, and the love that you have poured into the company, Starbucks today is widely embraced and respected. As I prepare to step away, I’d like to humbly remind you not to lose sight of what matters most: your fellow partners and our customers,” Schultz expressed in his letter. “Kevin Johnson is a true servant leader, and he will lead Starbucks as this great company enters its next journey. It’s our duty as leaders to constantly reimagine Starbucks. I am honored to call Kevin my friend and partner. And Starbucks is fortunate to have him. This leadership team is extraordinarily capable. They, too, believe that Starbucks has a responsibility to use our scale for good.”
How will Schultz’s transition out of Starbucks’ chain of command alter the course of its success story, and will that reflect on other restaurant chains in the industry? Deli Market News will continue to report.